2015 Pew Grants Announced for Local Artists and Organizations

Cai Gui-Quiang's "Dream." Photo by Tatsumi Masatoshi.

Cai Gui-Quiang’s “Dream.” Photo by Tatsumi Masatoshi.

Over 50 Philadelphia area cultural organizations and artists received grants from The Pew Center for the Arts and Heritage, marking the Center’s 10th year of grant making. Recipients from theater, visual arts, opera, music, dance, and other mediums received more than $9.6 million dollars in grants.

“Our 2015 grantees exemplify the diverse and dynamic cultural life of our region,” says Paula Marincola, the Center’s executive director. “As we reflect on the past 10 years of grant making in this vibrant community, we also look forward to the extraordinary cultural experiences this talented and ambitious group of artists and organizations will bring to Greater Philadelphia’s audiences.” Read more »

Lights Go Out on Sondheim Tribute in Old City

Sondheim at the Arden. | Photo by Mark Garvin

Sondheim at the Arden. | Photo by Mark Garvin

Around 7 pm last night, just before the Arden Theatre Company was to stage a Stephen Sondheim tribute concert, the lights went out all around Old City. Sondheim was actually in the neighborhood—dining at Zahav—during the power failure, which, according to The Inquirer, happened after an underground cable shorted near the theater during a rainstorm. An hour and a half after the blackout, power had been restored for more than half of those who lost it—but not the Arden.

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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.

IN THE WINGS: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Star Jered McLenigan

When Wilma Theater’s Artistic Director Blanka Zizka decided to direct both Hamlet and Tom Stoppard’s dark comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, she made a radical decision to hire one cast to perform both shows. The lead actors, including Jered McLenigan, began rehearsals for the latter two weeks before Hamlet rehearsals. Now, after the opening of the Shakespeare drama, they are continuing the rehearsal process. McLenigan took our rapid-fire Q&A, where he discusses drinking his bottled tears on opening night, making himself up to look like Morgan Freeman and that time he made eggs for Eddie Vedder. 

Jered McLenigan

My name is … Jered McLenigan. I’m named after my father Gerard, whose name is pronounced like mine. My parents decided to spell my name phonetically and gifted me with a lifetime of misspellings. (Just kidding, mom and dad. Love you.) A lot of my friends and family call me Jerry.

I am … saltwater and stardust. Also I am allergic to shrimp.

On opening night … I wake before dawn, and in the deep blue ultraviolet early morning hues I bathe in dew and plant a seed in the earth with my mouth. I let the First Rays of Our Sun that break over the horizon shine into my eyes as I weep into a glass jar, saving the tears. I spend the next 12 hours wrapped in a coat of Spanish moss, meditating, chanting and purging; I hold a rose of Jericho and watch it bloom. Just before stepping onstage I drink my bottled tears.

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REVIEW: Is Respect the Sleeper Hit of the Philly Spring Theater Season?

Lindsay Roberts, April Woodall, Marissa Barnathan, and Lauren Rooney.

Lindsay Roberts, April Woodall, Marissa Barnathan, and Lauren Rooney.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Everything about Respect: A Musical Journey of Women, currently playing at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse, seems, at first, to be modest at best: The theater, which is tucked away on the second floor of the Independence Seaport Museum, has a minimal set and a lot of Patsy Cline pre-show music. There’s a series of risers that hold a four-piece band and a lamppost, and you can’t help but prepare yourself for the worst: This is, after all, what appears to be in the same vain as Menopause: The Musical or, even worse, Nunsense.

Then the lights dim and the show starts and you’ll be damned if you aren’t totally engrossed. Sure, Respect isn’t going to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama, but it’s insanely smart and wildly entertaining. What makes this particular production so darn good is the four performers who bring so much energy and talent to the stage. 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.

Tina Fey’s Mean Girls Musical is “60 Percent Written”

Mean-Girls

Tina Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond, who wrote the theme songs to 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, spilled some proverbial beans in a recent interview when he revealed that Fey’s Mean Girls musical is more than half written.

We’ve been writing this [with] Nell Benjamin of Legally Blonde fame—she’s working with us as a lyricist,” he told Yahoo. “We’ve been working for a long time now. I’m going to say it’s like 60 percent written, and it’s being staffed creatively… We are looking to do some actual solid readings coming around this summer. The Kimmy Schmidt thing took a lot more time than we all thought, so it slowed some Mean Girls stuff down.”

When asked to tease a song he dished that there is a number called “Old Blonde Song” that’s sung by Regina’s mother.

(h/t Yahoo)

In the Wings: Our Chat With Moon Cave Star Kevin Meehan

Philadelphia actor Kevin Meehan stars in Azuka Theatre‘s world premiere production of Moon Cave, written by another Philadelphian, Douglas Williams. We sat down with the performer to chat about how he taps into deep, dark secrets to prepare for his role, his crush on Martha Graham Cracker and that time he spooked John Leguizamo. 

Kevin Meehan (left) in 'Moon Cave,' with Taysha Canales.

Kevin Meehan (left) in ‘Moon Cave,’ with Taysha Canales.

My name is… Kevin John Meehan. I feel like most of my friends don’t know my middle name is John, but I got it from my great grandfather John DiFelice. He was fresh off the boat from Italy and had a horseshoeing stable right at 2nd and Delancey for a long while. This was long before the Headhouse area became bougie, of course.

I am… an artist, uncle, brother, son, friend, boyfriend, awesome roommate, one-time skydiver, want-to-be world traveler, hiker, biker, and camp fire-starter. Read more »

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