Arts Shortlist: See a Play About WikiLeaks

The Elixir of Love. Photo by Ken Howard

The Elixir of Love. Photo by Ken Howard

See What I Wanna See @ Christ Church Neighborhood House | April 28 to May 15
For 11th Hour Theatre Company’s 11th season, the founders collaborated on this musical about truth and perception, based on short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Here’s a menacing preview:

“Dear Julia” Opening Reception @ Philadelphia Magic Gardens | Friday, April 29
In the nearly 50 years Isaiah and Julia Zagar have lived on South Street, Isaiah has been the more recognizable name, known for his mural-sized, mirror-dotted mosaics adorning the neighborhood and the Magic Gardens. This new exhibit, on display through June 26, is a “visual love letter” to Julia, with mixed-media work by both Zagars alongside other artists. Proceeds are going to The Julia Zagar Residency Program for Women Artists.

The Elixir of Love @ The Academy of Music | April 29 to May 8
A poor car mechanic pines for a rich uptown girl, but she’s in love with a handsome sergeant. Find out if the love potion he drinks will win her in this Santa Fe Opera production at Opera Philadelphia. The show, set in the 1940s Italian countryside, is in Italian with English supertitles. Have you ever heard an opera in English? It’s disconcerting.

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LISTEN: Questlove Talks Prince, Ping Pong, Philly in Interview With NPR’s Terry Gross

Terry Gross (Daniel Burke/Fresh Air), Questlove (Jeff Fusco)

Terry Gross (Daniel Burke/Fresh Air), Questlove (Jeff Fusco)

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has had a tumultuous and emotional few weeks, with the deaths of his friends and music legends Prince — about whom he penned an essay for Rolling Stone — and Billy Paul. Just over a month ago, the Roots drummer lost his father, Lee Andrews, at the age of 79. His friend Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest, died a week later.

His live interview from Sunday with Terry Gross, host of the WHYY-produced, nationally syndicated radio show Fresh Air, will be broadcast on WHYY and other NPR stations tonight at 7 p.m., and is streaming now on NPR’s website. In their talk, Questlove opens up about some of his recent losses:  Read more »

Delco Proper’s Tim Butterly Tells Us Why Philly Is Like Sweatpants

Tim Butterly on Delco Proper. Photo provided

Tim Butterly on Delco Proper. Photo provided

The first episode of Delco Proper opens with three friends in a car, about to go to a funeral. Tim Butterly’s character is itching to beat up a guy they knew in high school, for reasons unknown, but he’s quickly admonished by fellow Philly comic John McKeever: “Izzy, we talked about this. No fighting at a funeral.”

Tommy Pope chimes in from the passenger seat: “You’re right. He’s gotta wait for the wake.”

And so we’re introduced to the very recognizable, NSFW world of the Delaware County-set Comedy Central web series.

Butterly, who says fans will definitely see Izzy in his stand-up, performs at MilkBoy (1100 Chestnut Street) tonight for the first in a new monthly comedy showcase, Laughs On Philly: Unpasteurized. We caught up with him to ask about Delco Proper and what to expect tonight.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Born, raised, currently living in, and will most likely die in the Harrowgate section of Philadelphia. If you aren’t familiar with that part of the city, it’s because local news stations have a habit of calling it Kensington or Port Richmond whenever they report on whatever murder happened that day. It’s lovely.

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6 Shows To See This Week That Have Nothing in Common

Dance to Audien at SoundGarden Hall. Photo provided

Dance to Audien at SoundGarden Hall. Photo provided

Teyana Taylor @ TLA | Thursday, April 28
Apparently some people on MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen can do more than complain that their new BMW has the wrong color birthday bow on it. When R&B singer Teyana Taylor was on the show, she had just signed to Pharrell’s record label, then later moved to Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music to release her debut album, out now. Also, she may have been a character on Empire.

Yo-Yo Ma @ Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center | April 28 to May 1
The famed cellist has a slew of Grammys under his belt, including his most recent one for Best Folk Album. He’s teaming up with the Philadelphia Orchestra to perform American composer John Williams’ Cello Concerto, which Williams wrote specifically for Ma. If you’re not convinced: Williams wrote the score for every film you love, from Jaws to Jurassic Park.

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From the Archives: Billy Paul on Life After “Me and Mrs. Jones”

In 1982, when the auto accident that paralyzed singer Teddy Pendergrass sounded the last chord of Philadelphia International Records, I was a very young writer at Philadelphia magazine. At the time, a lot of people in the music business were asking what had gone wrong for Gamble and Huff’s magical musical empire. I set out to interview anyone who could help tell the story, since neither Gamble nor Huff would speak to me. One of the earliest and most powerful interviews was with singer Billy Paul, who died yesterday at the age of 80. It was powerful because, of all the Philly International songs, Paul’s hit was my favorite. There was something that had made me stop whatever I was doing and sing along when the orchestra abruptly halted and Billy Paul’s voice just sailed and moaned without accompaniment, “Meeeeee, aaaahand Missus, Missus Jones!” But, at the time, Paul was also among the most angry of the people who had been part of the Philly Sound, the one most obviously trying to hold it together. And, apparently, he did. He was 45 when I met him in early 1983, and a lot of the people I interviewed for that story died long before him.

From my June 1983 Philadelphia magazine story, “The Day the Soul Train Crashed”:  Read more »

Review: Trevor Noah at SugarHouse Casino

Trevor Noah - SugarHouse Casino

Photo | Matt Bishop for SugarHouse Casino

I’m not a huge gambler, but I like places where you can gamble. I enjoy the thrill of pretending that next small bet or slot pull will lead me to riches, I enjoy the people watching and I enjoy the complimentary drinks. That includes the sole casino in Philadelphia, SugarHouse. Unfortunately, among my group of friends, I might be the only one to feel that way. So I don’t go much.

I get it. For a while, SugarHouse’s slogan might as well have been: “Sad, even for a casino.” It was just a slots barn at first; only recently is it becoming more of a destination. The casino is in the process of a $165 million expansion. It’s expanded the gaming floor — the casino has an actual poker room now, instead of just a “poker tent” — and the whole place has been refreshed. Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House is scheduled to open sometime in the near future. Yes, the expansion included a giant parking garage. Still, the whole place looks nicer. Read more »

CONCERT REVIEW: Floetry at TLA

Photography by Chris Sikich

Photography by Chris Sikich

Last Wednesday night, Floetry brought their soulful message to a sold-out TLA. Recently reunited, the band of Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart gave an electrifying performance to an audience that could not get enough of the profound musical vibes of the British/hometown heroes.

Originally from London, the band has made a home of Philadelphia, and the show had a decidedly hometown feel. Songs like “Say Yes” and “Hey You” resonated with a timeless quality. With two memorable albums to dig into, Floetic and Flo’Ology, Floetry could easily excite the fans both new and old. Read more »

THEATER REVIEW: Loveliness Gives Way to Terror in EgoPo’s Machinal

Mary Tuomanen, Chris Anthony, and Ross Beschler in Machinal at EgoPo. (Photo by Dave Sarrafian)

Mary Tuomanen, Chris Anthony, and Ross Beschler in Machinal at EgoPo. (Photo by Dave Sarrafian)

In the opening minutes of Machinal, the mesmerizing Mary Tuomanen leans forward to pick up a single lily that lies alone on the vast, empty stage floor. With her delicate, translucent beauty and her graceful movements, the image might be drawn from 19th century ballet.

Drink in the languidly poetic loveliness while you can, dear audience.

From here on, the world of Machinal — as captured in Brenna Geffers visually stunning, immersive production — is a twitchy, juddering, altogether overwhelming place. The flowers that continue to surround the Young Woman (that’s Tuomanen) soon represent ugly omens — bloody roses strewn on her marriage bed, or a wilted bouquet that serves as a weapon. As with Shakespeare’s Ophelia, this Young Women’s “fantastic garlands” presage something terrible. Read more »

20 Things To Do This Weekend

Squonk at the PIFA Street Fair. Photo provided

Squonk at the PIFA Street Fair. Photo provided

Twilight in the Gardens @ Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens | Friday, April 22
The Magic Gardens kicks off its seasonal BYOB series with music from Son Step, plus artist Alex Eckman-Lawn leading a game known as an “exquisite corpse” — which is not at all what I pictured.

XPN’s Key Fest @ MilkBoy | April 22-24
Check out what’s hot in the local music scene with The Key’s curated music festival. You can get a three-day pass or pick a night: Friday is hip-hop and electronic pop, Saturday brings punk and indie rock, and Sunday embraces Americana. Kate Faust is in Friday’s line-up:

French Connection @ Philadelphia Museum of Art | Friday, April 22
For this week’s Art After 5, pianist and composer Cedric Hanriot plays an homage to sci-fi writer Dan Simmons. Buy a glass of wine and settle on the steps of the Great Stair Hall to enjoy the show.

Big Book Sale @ Book Corner | April 22-23
Kick-start your perpetual promise to yourself to read more at the Friends of the Free Library’s annual Big Book Sale. Thousands of books are being sold on the cheap, starting with mass market jawns at five for a dollar.

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