See John Street Tell a Possibly NSFW Story at an Open Mic

John Street photo by Coke Whitworth/AP, Martha Graham Cracker photo from Facebook

John Street photo by Coke Whitworth/AP, Martha Graham Cracker photo from Facebook

Martha Graham Cracker at DNC @ Top of the Tower
On Tuesday, Equality PA is hosting Equality in the Sky, a Get Out the Vote fundraiser with Top of the Tower’s sweeping city views and a performance from Philly’s favorite — and seemingly busiest — drag queen, Martha Graham Cracker. Enjoy the show while rubbing shoulders with the political elite, including former governor/current chair of the DNC host committee Ed Rendell and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. Read more »

THEATRE REVIEW: Gun Control Under Fire in Roseburg at New City Stage

Ross Widdall and Joshua Tewell in Roseburg at New City Stage Company. (Photo by Alex Lowy)

Ross Widdall and Joshua Tewell in Roseburg at New City Stage Company. (Photo by Alex Lowy)

It’s a widely-held belief that in theater, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  I wonder what Ginger Dayle would say to that?

Dayle conceived (through devised work with her ensemble cast) and directed Roseburg, a heartfelt work-in-progress play that recounts, in a parallel structure, two events in Roseburg, Oregon — a 2015 shooting at a community college, and a 1968 speech on gun control by then-presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. Read more »

17 Things to Do in Philly This Weekend

Tour the National Constitution Center during PoliticalFest. Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Tour the National Constitution Center during PoliticalFest. Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

FRIDAY, JULY 22

PoliticalFest @ Various Locations
Get a hands-on social studies lesson at PoliticalFest, organized by the Democratic National Convention’s host committee. Seven sites around the city are participating with exhibits, games, talks and performances about American history, politics and government. One $15 ticket gets you into everything, so whether you’re a visitor or a local now’s a good (and inexpensive) time to check out the National Constitution Center, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia History Museum, the Heritage Center of the Union League of Philadelphia, the National Liberty Museum, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Convention Center. It starts Friday and runs through July 27. Convention attendees get in free. Read more »

Q&A with Freedom Theatre Guest Director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj

The ensemble of Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope at Freedom Theatre. (Photo by www.ethimofoto.net)

Perhaps like me, you’ve never seen Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, but you know the title.  Vinnette Carroll’s African-American musical revue was a significant hit — over 1,000 performances on Broadway in the early 1970s — but it hasn’t often been revived.  I did own the cast album, though (now a quite rare collectible LP!), which captures the shows distinctive musical mix of gospel, jazz, soul, and more, as well as it’s free-wheeling charm.  We often credit Stephen Sondheim with reinventing musical theater in that time period, but Carroll’s show, focused on social and political themes, had a hand in it, also — not least because with it, Carroll herself became the first African-American woman to direct on Broadway.  Don’t Bother Me has a female composer and lyricist, too — Micki Grant, who also appeared in the show.

Now, director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj is bringing Don’t Bother Me to Philadelphia’s Freedom Theatre.  This is not simply a revival — Maharaj sees the show as a way to recognize and commemorate issues very much in our present, in particular the demolition of William Penn High School.  Not long ago, WPHS stood across the street from Freedom Theatre; now it’s a construction site, soon to make way for a racetrack for Temple University. Read more »

How Much is Theater Worth?

Azuka Theatre tested the new ticketing model in the spring with Moth. Photo by Johanna Austin

Azuka Theatre tested the new ticketing model in the spring with Moth. Photo by Johanna Austin

When Azuka Theatre kicks off its fall season with Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On, the seats will be filled with patrons who haven’t paid a dime — and don’t have to. The theater company is doing away with the traditional ticketing system in favor of two full seasons of “pay-what-you-decide” shows. And while they’re hoping you do decide to pay, the primary goal is drawing in new audiences. Read more »

THEATER REVIEW: Girl Seeks Wedded Bliss in Mazeppa’s Sweet Charity

Sam Nagel (Oscar) and Colette Clancy (Charity) in Sweet Charity at Mazeppa Productions.

Sam Nagel (Oscar) and Colleen Clancy (Charity) in Sweet Charity at Mazeppa Productions. (Photo by Anne Marie Scalies)

“Hey, Big Spender! Spend… a little time with me.”

Few theater moments are as surefire as this one. As conceived by original director/choreographer Bob Fosse — to a killer song by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields — the line of dance hall hostesses provocatively staring us down is guaranteed to raise an audience’s blood pressure.  It sure does here, as the young female ensemble deliver “Big Spender” with all the brio and loucheness you could hope for.

The song comes early in the show, and it’s an auspicious beginning for Mazeppa Productions’ enjoyable Sweet Charity, which largely lives up to the promise. Read more »

Mentally Prepare for the DNC with Political Theater

Russ Widdall is Robert Kennedy in New City Stage Company's Roseburg. Photo by Alex Lowy

Russ Widdall is Robert Kennedy in New City Stage Company’s Roseburg. Photo by Alex Lowy

The Trump Card @ FringeArts | Thursday, July 21
Mike Daisey, called “the master storyteller” by the New York Times, performs his monologue about the embarrassment that is Donald Trump for the second time at FringeArts. Unlike Melania’s convention speech, Daisey’s words aren’t cribbed. Read more »

THEATER REVIEW: In I Am Not My Motherland, Past and Present Tell Different Stories

Brian Anthony Wilson, Hannah Gold, and Isabel Sazak in I Am Not My Motherland at Orbiter 3.

Brian Anthony Wilson, Hannah Gold, and Isabel Sazak in I Am Not My Motherland at Orbiter 3.

We’re often told that nothing is black and white.  But Masha Tsimring’s scenery for I Am Not My Motherland is!  It’s also intriguing, spare, and (no doubt, deliberately) disorienting — a landscape of mixed and seemingly incompatible elements, including a cage, a light board for analyzing x-rays, and a leafless tree that sometimes floats above the stage.

The set turns out to be a good metaphor for the Emily Acker’s ambitious, sometimes effective, but not altogether cohesive play. Read more »

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