THEATER REVIEW: In Fun Home, The Days and Days that Make Up Our Lives

The Cast of Fun Home at the Forrest Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

A day or two ago, a savvy theater friend and I were debriefing about the Tony Awards. While we both agreed there was plenty to criticize, he made the sage point that the last three winners of Best Musical are an impressive study in the evolution of that form. The first of the them, now on stage at the Forrest Theatre, is Fun Home, with music by Jeanine Tesori, and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. (The others are, of course, Hamilton, and Dear Evan Hanson, and they can be expected in Philly in due course.)

At first glance, Fun Home might seem the most conventional of the three, dealing as it does with a favorite theme in American theater: the dysfunctional family from which a child arises—successful, if not unscathed—to tell about it. Within minutes, though, you’ll find there’s nothing routine about this altogether extraordinary musical that’s likely to turn you into an emotional puddle. Read more »

14 Things to Do This Week

Adult Swim’s Joe Pera plays Good Good Comedy Theatre on Saturday. This is an artist’s rendering.

Liberty To Go To See @ Cliveden | June 14-17
Now in its fifth year, the Liberty To Go To See show in Germantown’s historic Cliveden Mansion tells the story of the Chew family and their slaves and servants who lived there from the 1760s to the 1860s. The audience follows the action as it moves throughout the mansion.

SoLow Fest @ multiple venues | June 14-25
This D.I.Y./experimental arts festival offers solo performances in multiple disciplines at several locations over the next two weeks. All show are pay-what-you-can. Solow starts with a launch party featuring preview performances (by Tiffany Bunch, Jess Conda, Michael Vandie and more) at Tattooed Mom on Wednesday, June 14. The reset of the fest runs June 15-25. There are way too many cool-looking things happening at this year’s SoLow to list here. Your best bet is to check out the schedule and tap into your adventurous spirit. Read more »

True Confessions of a 27-Year-Old, Male Taylor Swift Fan

I have a confession to make: I really dig Taylor Swift. And I don’t just mean in the “she’s the hottest chick to ever come out of Wyomissing” way (eat your heart out, Kate Gosselin). I mean that I am a 27-year-old man who actually likes and listens to her music.

Need proof? The first thought that ran through my mind after hearing the news that the pop-country virtuoso had returned her canon to music-streaming services was “Fuck — remind me again why I just bought 1989 on vinyl?” On a given day you can catch me in my ’95 Volvo rocking out to “22” or singing both the male and female parts of “Highway Don’t Care.” (Yup, I’m single, ladies!) Read more »

Music: 9 Shows to See in the Next 7 Days

The Kominas play Johnny Brenda’s on Wednesday. (Eva Wo)

The Kominas @ Johnny Brenda’s | Wednesday, June 14
The Boston-based Kominas have been mixing punk with psych, surf and Punjabi folk for more than a decade now. It’s got an edge but I swear you can dance to it. If you want. The band recently recorded an episode of the Shaking Through video series with the Philly-based Weathervane Music non-profit. The track below, from 2015’s Stereotype, puts a snarky spin on a sad-but-true story of discrimination, and hammers it home with bit of the Friends theme.

Wesley Stace and the English UK @ Pastorius Park | Wednesday, June 14
Not only is Wesley Stace a world-class singer, songwriter and showman, but this free concert is an excellent excuse to check out a park Chestnut Hill has been hiding from us. Read more »

The Firefly Festival Lineup Is Wonderfully Bonkers

Chance the Rapper (left) plays Saturday with Bob Dylan and Kesha.

The lineup at the annual Firefly Music Festival is always noticeably eclectic, but if this year’s bill looks especially insane, that might be your doing. The 2017 edition of Firefly claims to be “the first-ever fan-curated music festival,” with its roster being built via “fan surveys, votes, and contests.”

How exactly you turn the opinions of thousands of people into a working festival is beyond me, but the results are impressively weird. For example:

  • Friday: Twenty One Pilots/Weezer/Lil Dicky.
  • Saturday: Chance the Rapper/Kesha/Bob Dylan.
  • Sunday: Muse/The Shins/Busta Rhymes.

Pretty cool, right? There’s still time to purchase tickets for this massive festival, whether you wanna camp out all (long) weekend long or just drive in for a single day. Here are a few videos to help you make the call: Read more »

THEATER REVIEW: In Simpatico’s Hir, the Triumph of Chaos

Marcia Saunders and Eppchez! in Hir at Simpatico Theatre. (Photo by Daniel Kontz)

“We’ve given up on order,” says Paige with a triumphant smile to her son, Isaac, as together they survey the chaotic mess of their living room. If we take this as a winking summary also of Taylor Mac’s spectacular, genre-busting play, Hir—well, I’d say it’s the understatement of the year.

You see, Isaac has just returned from fighting in Afghanistan—and finds he’s traded one war for another. Back at home, he discovers that his father, Arnold (actor John Morrison gives a funny and heartbreaking performance) has had a stroke, and is now infantilized and abused by Paige, who has taken his failing health as an opportunity to grab the reins. (Paige is quite a piece of work: imagine a cross between Paula Deen and Kim Jong-il, and you’ll be close.) From the look of things, house cleaning is the first thing she gave up, in what is now her on-going quest for self-realization. Read more »

42 Things to Do This Weekend

!!! aka Chk Chk Chk plays Underground Arts on Friday. (Erez Avissar)

FRIDAY, JUNE 9

Unlimited Devotion @ Ardmore Music Hall
Two busy nights of jammy bands jamming out in tribute to the Grateful Dead. Talent includes: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Steve Kimock, John Kadlecik, Vinnie Amico, Aron Magner, Marc Brownstein, Michael Travis and a bunch more, with guest of honor Wavy Gravy. Find out who plays Friday and who plays Saturday here.

Southern Culture on the Skids @ World Café Live
This North Carolina rock/soul trio has been doing their thing since 1983, amazingly enough. Their thing, of course, is funny, high energy and kinda trashy music you can dance to. Make sure to get there in time to see the GTVs, fronted by Sam Steinig of longtime Philly rockers Mondo Topless. Read more »

Release Me: New Music by Local Artists

Deadfellow plays Milkboy Philly on Friday.

Matt Cappy @ 2300 Arena | Thursday, June 8
Philly trumpeter to the stars — he’s played with Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Maxwell and more — Matt Cappy is going to drop his debut jazz album tonight. Well, Church & State isn’t just jazz, as this track featuring Philly rapper Chill Moody demonstrates. It’s moody, but it’s not chill. The album also features contributions from Marsha Ambrosius and Stephen Costello. Read more »

15 Things to Do in the Next 7 Days

Ron Funches plays the Troc on Friday. (ronfunches.com)

The Legendary Wid @ Punchline Philly | Wednesday, June 7
The Philly comedy veteran hosts a packed bill that includes Dave Terruso, Mike Brooks, Hannah Harkness and tons more.

Adele Givens @ Helium | June 8-10
The veteran comedian has been seen in a number of TV shows and movies over the years, including The Hughleys, Def Comedy Jam and Beauty Shop. If you watch this clip, you will laugh, guaranteed: Read more »

Music: 10 Shows to See This Week

The Avalanches play the TLA on Wednesday. They’re crazy in the coconut. (emimusic.com.au)

The Avalanches @ TLA | Wednesday, June 7
Like the census, or cicadas, Australian dancey cut-and-paste geniuses operate on their own schedule. The group only has two records, 2000’s Since I Left You and last year’s Wildflower, each one a collection of insane samples mixed with hard-to-spot original bits and arranged over hip-hop beats. The mesmerizing “Frontier Psychiatrist” is their best-known track, but let’s hear a newer one.

Graves @ Fillmore Philly | Thursday, June 8
Hawaii-based DJ/producer/engineer Christian Mochizuki aka Graves aka Christian the Lion picked up a Grammy for Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and has worked with Jay Z, Kid Cudi, Big Sean and Biebs. He comes to town to do a DJ set, playing bass, dub, EDM and whatever else pops into his head.

Read more »

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