Mobile game Pokémon Go blew up when it was introduced last month, with an estimated 7.5 million downloads in the U.S. in just the first five days. A slew of articles about the dangers of walking around outside glued to your phone quickly followed — though that’s an old gripe — while businesses jumped to tie their locations to the game. Meet-ups for “trainees” and “trainers” formed and up popped online groups like PokémonGoPhilly, dedicated to discussing all things Pokémon, from tips to troubleshooting to bragging about rare catches. So it was inevitable that a Pokémon Go-themed tour of Philadelphia would be next, and where else would it be than the tour nucleus of Old City? Read more »
For 208 episodes (and counting) Simon Helberg has killed it as the egomaniacal aerospace engineer whose pickup lines are always left wanting on the megahit TV show The Big Bang Theory. For his new film, Stephen Frears’s Florence Foster Jenkins, Helberg, an accomplished pianist, plays the real-life accompanist Cosme McMoon, who played alongside the flamboyant Ms. Jenkins in the 1940s. Jenkins (played by Meryl Streep), a very wealthy New York heiress with a great love of music, believed herself to be a fine opera singer, as egged on by her much younger husband (Hugh Grant), though in reality she was absolutely abysmal. Full of moxie, Jenkins arranged a live concert for herself at Carnegie Hall, an event her young pianist absolutely dreaded. Helberg recently spoke with Ticket about his musicianship, the delicate nature of ego, and working with one of the towering artistic figures of our time. Read more »
The Borscht Belt @ Gershman Y | Thursday, August 11
Marisa Scheinfeld documents the decline of the Catskills in the photo exhibit The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland. It opens Thursday with a tour and a joke-telling competition in homage to the place where the likes of Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Rodney Dangerfield, Billy Crystal and many others got their starts. I did a quick search and I’m pretty sure Wikipedia’s description of “Borscht Belt humor” is spot-on: It typically includes bad luck, puns and aggravating relatives. Read more »
Philly’s 20th Fringe Festival includes more than 1,000 performances over two weeks, so even the most ardent theatre fan is only going to see a small fraction of them. Organizer FringeArts just released a guide to the festival that lists out all the shows, plus ticket and venue info, with hard copies available at various locations — mostly coffee shops — around the city. Or check out the guide here. Read more »
I know virtually nothing about sports.
Normally, I would not lead with this. But here, it matters. You see, the “me” of Tommy and Me is the play’s author, sportswriter Ray Didinger; and Tommy is football player Tommy McDonald, whom Didinger idolized, and whose friendship he cultivated years after McDonald’s too-short career was over. Read more »
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5
Nightscape @ Longwood Gardens
Longwood Garden’s light and sound installment, designed by the innovative Klip Collective, was a hit last summer so it’s back for round two, with some tweaks to keep things interesting. If you can’t get there this weekend, you have until October 29.
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BlackStar Film Festival @ University City | August 4-7
This fifth annual film fest showcasing movies by and about people of African descent from across the world kicks off today with a series of features and shorts, followed by an opening reception tonight at Johnny Brenda’s. The festival’s theme is “migration,” with more than 60 films being screened over four days, mostly at International House and Drexel University’s Pearlstein Gallery, along with artist talks, panels and workshops. On Saturday night, the Kimmel Center is the site of the BlackStar Awards, hosted by actors (and spouses) Dorian and Simone Missick. Filmmaker Julie Dash — she made Daughters of the Dust, which likely inspired Beyonce’s Lemonade — is being honored at the awards ceremony. Read more »