4 Books Events That Aren’t Bruce Springsteen

A beer garden is popping up on the Parkway Central Library's Skyline Terrace. Photo from Facebook

A beer garden is popping up on the Parkway Central Library’s Skyline Terrace. Photo from Facebook

Alton Brown: EveryDayCook @ Parkway Central Library | Thursday, September 29
The endearing chef/TV host Alton Brown will be at the Free Library to talk about his new cookbook, EveryDayCook. You know him from Iron Chef America, Cutthroat Kitchen, and his long-running show Good Eats, where he delved into the science and history behind the food. Read more »

Mural Arts Month Kicks Off With a South Philly Dance Party

Artist Isaac Lin creating a new piece of public art at the Murals at Swanson Walk, South Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia

Artist Isaac Lin creating a new piece of public art at the Murals at Swanson Walk, South Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia

In a city with almost 4,000 murals, it makes sense that we’d have a month set aside for looking at them. The newly rebranded Mural Arts Philadelphia is organizing nearly 30 events for Mural Arts Month in October around the theme “Risk and Roots,” including a party this Friday, September 30th, to kick things off.

The open-to-the-public party is happening at Snyder Plaza, at Snyder Avenue and Swanson Street in South Philly, where four new murals are up and more are planned. DJ Cash Money, Cosmo Baker, Gun$ Garcia and DJ Royale will provide the dance music, circus artists from Circadium will perform, and there will, of course, be food trucks. It’s free to attend, but it would be awfully nice if you donated $5. Read more »

THEATER REVIEW: Stupid F-ing Bird — Dumb Title, Fine Play

Grace Gonglewski and Aubie Merrylees in Stupid Fucking Bird at the Arden. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

Grace Gonglewski and Aubie Merrylees in Stupid Fucking Bird at the Arden. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

When I first saw the uncensored title — Stupid Fucking Bird — I winced. Not because I don’t swear (I do, often), but because it smacks of the kind of deliberate provocation I associate with adolescents.

I’m happy to report that Aaron Posner’s sometimes wonderful adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull transcends the name. And it’s hard to imagine a more persuasive production than this one, elegantly directed by Posner himself, and featuring a terrific ensemble of seven actors — Cindy De La Cruz, Dan Hodge, Alex Keiper, Aubie Merrylees, Karl Miller, Greg Wood, and last but not least, Grace Gonglewski, in role that Posner conceived with her in mind. Read more »

Circadium Brings the Circus to Feastival

Eric Michaels of Circadium practices acrobatics. He'll be performing on straps at Feastival.

Eric Michaels of Circadium practices acrobatics. He’ll be performing on straps at Feastival.

Food from many of the best chefs in Philadelphia, plus all the cocktails you can handle, is enough of an excuse to splurge on a ticket for Thursday’s Feastival. But if you need another reason, come for the acrobats. Read more »

THEATER REVIEW: Hip-Hop and Youthful Hope in How We Got On

Jerrik Medrano and James Whitfield in How We Got On. (Photo by Johanna Austen)

Jerrik Medrano and James Whitfield in How We Got On at Azuka Theater. (Photo by Johanna Austin)

We hear a lot about the graying of audiences for live theater and concerts — that the average age keeps going up.  If it’s true, and the trend continues, the implications are dire. (Hey, when I look around and I’m in the younger half of the crowd, I know we’re in trouble!) But few companies seem to be willing or able to address it head-on.

Then there’s Azuka. Their mission, explicitly stated, is to give voice to people whose stories go unheard.  Last season, this focus seemed very specifically to include young people.  Two of their shows — Local Girls and Moth — were about teenagers. The latter in particular had a rare sense of authenticity. Continuing this trajectory, Azuka opens with How We Get On, a four-character coming of age story, written by Idris Goodwin and directed with spirit by Raelle Myrick-Hodges. Read more »

OPERA REVIEW: Turandot — A Wild, Multicultural Ride

Christine Goerke in Opera Philadelphia's Turandot. (Kelly & Massa Photography)

Christine Goerke in Opera Philadelphia’s Turandot. (Kelly & Massa Photography)

Opera Philadelphia’s opening week is globe-trotting and time-traveling.  Breaking the Waves, their world-premiere production, takes place in a grim Scottish town in the 1970s. Verdi’s Macbeth resets the action to contemporary Africa.

In between is Turandot, Puccini’s beloved final opera, left unfinished at the time of his death in 1924. Turandot takes place in ancient Peking — make that ancient Peking, as adapted from an 18th century Italian play, influenced by 16th century commedia dell’arte, and set to music by an early 20th century composer (also Italian) with a 19th century sensibility. Read more »

OPERA REVIEW: A Compelling, Disturbing Breaking the Waves

Breaking the Waves at Opera Philadelphia. (Photo by Nicholas Korkos)

Breaking the Waves at Opera Philadelphia. (Photo by Nicholas Korkos)

It’s a week that effectively demonstrates Opera Philadelphia’s growing presence and ambitions.  There’s a gala opening in grandly traditional style — Puccini’s Turandot, at their home theater, the Academy of Music.  The next day brings a collaboration with the African company Third World Bunfight, in a remix version of Verdi’s Macbeth that is also part of the FringeArts.

No doubt the major news (and the biggest risk) took place Thursday night at the ideally-sized Perelman Theater — the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s operatic setting of Lars von Trier’s fascinating but bleak and disturbing film, Breaking the Waves. Read more »

20 Things to Do in Philly This Weekend

Julius Caesar. Spared Parts is being performed at the Navy Yard. Photo by Luca Del Pia

Julius Caesar. Spared Parts is being performed at the Navy Yard. Photo by Luca Del Pia

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

Julius Caesar. Spared Parts @ The Navy Yard, Building 694
Italian director Romeo Castellucci returns to the Fringe Festival with this remix of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, presented “as a series of ‘fragments’ rearranged and positioned against each other.” It’s the first FringeArts performance at the Navy Yard; they might have needed the space there because the show features a horse. It runs through Saturday but some of the performances are sold out. Read more »

Watch Back to the Future with Christopher Lloyd

BacktotheFuture

Christopher Lloyd Goes Back to the Future @ Keswick Theatre | Saturday, September 24
Head to the Keswick to watch Back to the Future on the big screen and hear stories straight from Doc Brown himself about making the movie and working with Michael J. Fox/Marty McFly and director Steven Spielberg. There will be a Q&A, so come prepared with your most pressing time travel questions. Read more »

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