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.  


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 »

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 »

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