Originally from California, Jenson Titus Lavallee is now a Fishtown-based actor starring as “Babur” in Theatre Exile’s latest production of “Guards at the Taj.” We chatted with the Pig Iron School alum about his leading role, Philly’s LGBTQ performance scene, and being out in the theater world.
It’s hard to produce an entertaining pirate play in 2016, and even more difficult to pull off a remake. But Mauckingbird Theatre Company’s latest production is an effortless queer revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic The Pirates of Penzance.
I should have expected this: The group, which has built its reputation on retelling popular stories through an LGBTQ lens, has not disappointed me yet. In this version, Young Frederic, played by Garrick Vaughn, is newly released from indentured service with a band of fabulously raucous but loving queer pirates and hoping to atone for his misdeeds. Throughout his journey, he encounters the lovely and vocally impressive Mabel (Laura Whittenberger) and her gender-bending siblings. Surprisingly, the two fall instantly in love with one other. Read more »
Starting Friday, Quince Productions will be putting on the sixth-annual GayFest!, a festival of LGBTQ theater, at Studio X and the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake. This year, the event will showcase four Philadelphia premieres as main-stage productions and include the New York-based dance company the Bang Group as a returning favorite. But beyond a growing lineup of 30 scheduled performances, the subject matter is evolving too.
“I think sometimes people think ‘Well, you got marriage, you’re home free,’” says Rich Rubin, Quince’s producing artistic director. “I think they forget there are still challenges facing the community, so it’s important not only for people like that young man to see his life on stage, but for the non-LGBT community — and we get quite a few at GayFest — to see some of the questions and challenges and dilemmas still faced.” Read more »
Anthony Mustafa Adair, a 24-year-old rising star in Philadelphia’s theater scene, chats with us about his experiences as an openly gay Afghan performer and his role in Theatre Exile’s Philadelphia premiere of The Invisible Hand.
What inspires you to entertain?
I love storytelling. Although I imagine plenty of it is a need for attention, I truly believe there’s something innately human about telling a story to someone else, and seeing in their eyes that they’re listening and engaged. I also believe that my taste is what drives me to entertain. I know what’s good, I know what’s tired and boring — and I think that alone can be enough for me sometimes. Read more »
The 17th Annual Philly Black Pride Celebration
April 28th through May 2nd
Philly Black Pride is finally here and bigger than ever with a lineup of parties, expos, and socials that encourage all walks of life to come out to empower the city’s black LGBTQ community. Tickets can be purchased online and include other special registration offers and details. Read more »
Who could have ever thought a 17th-century French play could be so gay and gender-bending — and work so damn well as a result?
Philly-based Mauckingbird Theatre Company,, known for its LGBTQ twist on classic plays, kicked off its ninth season with a timely spin on Ranjit Bolt’s adaptation of Moliere’s Les Femmes Savantes (The Learned Ladies). Mauckingbird calls its production The Sisterhood, and the decision becomes even more interesting given that there is only one woman in a cast full of men. Read more »
There’s a bunch of pre-teen female actors putting on a performance at FringeArts later this month, and, no, it isn’t Annie.
“They are regular kids,” said Employee of the Year‘s co-creator Abby Browde, the New York-based artist who has worked with the cohort of children since 2014 as part of the performance group 600 Highwaymen. “None of them are industry kids.”
Yet, these girl actresses are given quite a daunting task in Employee of the Year: They tell the story of one woman’s life from start to finish through the use of movement, monologue, and song. At first, Browde and her artistic partner, Michael Silverstone, weren’t necessarily committed to using kids in the performance. Read more »
That’s what InterAct Theatre Company‘s Producing Artistic Director Seth Rozin said about the highly-anticipated opening of their new space at The Drake during my behind-the-scenes tour. The massive space is, indeed, designed to be quite a hub, with two brand new theater spaces, plus two lobbies, a conference room, a green room that’s actually green in color, dressing rooms, gender-neutral restrooms, plus a super unique mural.
Jason Lindner, InterAct’s marketing director, explained that the subject of the mural, Omar Sharif, used to host bridge competitions at The Drake in 1971. The mural depicts what these gatherings would look like, and features plenty of open space for visitors to make their own mark. Lindner will install a bucket of Sharpies for guests to “sign” the mural, leaving a little piece of themselves at The Drake. Read more »
Do It: Not So Strictly Ballroom
Learn how to dance like a star at the Society Hill Dance Academy (409 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia, 215-574-3574; 4401 Cresson Street, Manayunk, 215-482-1611). The studio offers gay-friendly open ballroom and Latin dance lessons in both Society Hill and Manayunk for couples—and if you’re shy, you can even book a private class for you and your partner. Because with a little help with those two left feet, you could easily outdo Carson Kressley—or Chaz.
Fix It: The Right Call
Does your iPhone screen have more cracks showing than the scene at Club Body Center? Or if you’ve dropped it more times than you can count, fear not the two-year contract and skip the long lines at the Apple Store. The tech geniuses at Philly iPhone Repair (1358 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-385-5242) will have your trusty smartphone back to its bad self in no time. You can even scope out pricing online (starting at $50) to find out if a quick fix trumps an upgrade.
Read It: Masterpiece Theatre
The Wilma Theatre revisited Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play this season. And now the 20th-anniversary edition of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes ($16.95) not only brings us face to face with the early years of AIDS, but explores everything from identity and sexuality to monogamy and government. Kushner offers a fresh new foreword aboutwhat it means three decades after the disease was first given a name.
Rob Paluso may be best known as Anita Manhattan, the retro-inspired drag persona from GayBINGO!, but the 31-year-old is actually a professional actor and costume designer who’s appeared in dozens of shows, films and the online gay soap Secrets. While he may be donning vastly different wardrobes (not to mention pantyhose) in the spotlight, in his private life, Paluso’s got a penchant for some seriously butch vintage duds.
Hometown: Washington, PA. “Also known as Washpa.”
Neighborhood: Queen Village.
Designed Costumes for: “I’ve been designing since 2006—most recently for local productions of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Style Inspiration: “Classic Hollywood—and, honestly, my parents, Patti and Eugene. They were married just before the hippie movement, so they have a lot of great, sleek clothes that are very Mad Men.”
Favorite Winter Look: Military. “I love peacoats and jackboots.”