Weekly Entertainment Guide – 'Avenue Q' School Edition, 'Laughter on 23rd Floor,' and Chekhov
Looking for something to do this week? WHYY's Robin Bloom has some recommendations on what's happening around the Philadelphia region. Here are her picks:
The Arden Theatre Company's two year-long collaboration with sister theater company Trinity Rep has culminated in a new production of Anton Chekhov's "Three Sisters." Translated by Curt Columbus, Artistic Director of Trinity Repertory Company (based in Providence, Rhode Island) and directed by Arden Founder and Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen, the timeless play traces the aspirations and disappointments of three sisters, Olga, Masha, and Irina, who yearn for the Moscow of their youth as they attempt to build fulfilling lives and relationships in their provincial home. Set by Tony Award winning designer (also from Trinity Rep) Eugene Lee and original music by composer James Sugg. Starring Philadelphia favorites Jake Blouch, Scott Greer, James Ijames, and Cathy Simpson, Katharine Powell, Sarah Sanford, and Mary Tuomanen, through April 20 at 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia. Related events include post-show discussions, open captioned and audio described performances, and Teen Arden. The Scene networking event takes place this Friday March 21 at 8pm. Student Rush tickets are available at the door 30 minutes before curtain for $10 cash with valid student ID.
"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" takes to the stage at Philadelphia Theatre Company March 21 through April 20. The humorous, tongue-in-cheek adaptation of Chekhov themes (that doesn't require familiarity with Chekhov) offers great laughs as well as commentary on contemporary events in classic Christopher Durang style. The popular show by the local Bucks County native was originally commissioned by the McCarter Theatre, and moved Off-Broadway and then to Broadway in 2013, winning the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. Featuring original music by Rob Maggio, direction by James J. Christy and an ensemble cast including Grace Gonglewski, Deirdre Madigan, Kianne Muschett, Clare O'Malley, Alex Shaw, and Kraig Swartz at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad & Lombard Streets, Philadelphia. Special events include meet the playwright post-show talk back on April 6, book club, backstage tour, happy hour and more.
The Wilma Theater has collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel to develop the world premiere production "Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq." Inspired by Bertolt Brecht's Don Juan returns from the War, the play tells the story of a Marine who returns home from war and upon discovering that his lover is missing, searches for her on a surrealistic tour through the streets and history of Philadelphia. Directed by Blanka Zizka and incorporating the experiences of recent veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan to a home that has little direct connection to war. Starring Keith Conallen and Kate Czajkowski through April 20 at 265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia.
Also on view in the lobby, "From War to Home: Through the Veteran's Lens," an exhibit of photos and personal testimony from Philadelphia-area veterans. Special events include onstage conversations, beer tasting, Young Friends Night, Veterans on Stage, Wine Tasting, Open Captioning, and more.
Treat yourself to Bristol Riverside Theatre's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," the madcap comedy based on Neil Simon's own experience working on the Sid Caesar show with characters based on Caesar and his co-writers Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. The raucous production is directed by Keith Baker with a talented cast including Kenneth Boys, K.O. Delmarcelle, David Edwards, Bruce Graham, Benjamin Lloyd, Megan McDermott, Jason Silverman, and Carl N. Wallnau through April 13 at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, PA. Special events include a Friday Festival on March 21, 7pm, Wine Down Wednesday, March 26, Thirsty Thursday, April 3, and Theatre Theology on April 6.
New City Stage Company continues its season of performances that surround the Presidential era of the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond with "Hinckley." Written by Ginger Dayle, directed by Russ Widdall, and starring Sam Sherburne, the play tells the first person story of John Hinckley Jr.'s life and the events leading up to his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. Weaving his personal story, the history of American assassinations, Reaganomics, and much more, the world premiere explores one of the greatest media fascinations and its effect on national politics through March 30 at the Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia. Including original music by singer-songwriter Meghan Cary, who also plays multiple roles of women in the would-be assassin's life and imagination.
Onstage at Eagle Theatre is the musical "Next to Normal." Krissy Fraelich, who starred in several Broadway productions, reprises her role of Diana Goodman, after having performed in the Arden Theatre Company's production in 2012. She stars opposite Brian Bortnick, the Philadelphia-based Octane front man, along with Jordan O'Brien, Adam Hoyak, Will Connell, and Tim Rinehart. The story of a mother struggling with bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family can be seen through March 29 at 208 Vine Street, Hammonton, NJ.
The Philadelphia based Kun-Yang Lin Dancers present the world premiere of "Be/Longing: Light/Shadow," a multi-disciplinary piece exploring the rituals of humankind, drawing from the mandala and the labyrinth with haunting, original music by Cory Neale, Friday, March 21, 8pm and Saturday, March 22, 3pm and 8pm, Drexel University's Mandell Theater, 33rd & Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.
MANNA hosts the annual "Shut Up & Dance," a one-night only performance by dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet to benefit Metropolitan Area Nutrition Alliance's meal and nutrition program, featuring original pieces choreographed by the dancers. This year's performance marks the 22nd anniversary, Saturday, March 22, 8pm, Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
Here's your chance to perform in "Invisible River" this summer! Learn improvisational and modern dance in a community dance workshop for ages 14 and up led by choreographer Alie Vidich. Create a new dance for the upcoming Schuylkill River performance Festival in July where the audience travels in boats that stop at different performance locations featuring aerialists, dancers and music. No previous dance experience necessary. Workshop is held Tuesday nights, 6:30pm-8:30pm beginning March 25 through July 8 at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Old City, Philadelphia. Performances will be Saturday, July 12 and Sunday, July 13. Cost is $250 and includes costume.
Award-winning, New York based choreographer Tere O'Connor brings his latest challenging work for eleven dancers to FringeArts for three performances, Thursday, March 27, 7pm, Friday, March 28, 7pm, and Saturday, March 29, 7pm. BLEED is the culmination of a two year creation project, blending diverse movement styles and performers, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia.
For two days only, new works by over 70 professional artists from the Brandywine Valley and beyond are on display at the 65th Annual Chadds Ford Art Sale and Show, March 21-22. Since it was established by Betsy Wyeth in 1949, this yearly show has delighted area residents and showcased local artists. The display includes works by featured artists J. Wayne Bystrom, Shawn Faust, and the late Paul Scarborough, a Chadds Ford artist and longtime participant in the show. Special events include a Friday evening reception on March 21, 7pm-10pm, and a lecture by Victoria Wyeth, granddaughter of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, on Saturday March 22, 11am, as well as an artisan showcase, tours, children's activities, and more at the Chadds Ford Elementary School, 3 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA. Pictured: "Along the Brandywine" by J. Wayne Bystrom.
The exhibit "Jessie Drew-Bear: Stories and Dreams" opens this Saturday, March 22 at Woodmere Art Museum, celebrating the local artist's twenty-three year career. At age fifty-nine, Drew-Bear (1879–1962), proprietor of the well-known London Flower Shop at 18th and Chestnut in Philadelphia, received a set of watercolors as a Christmas gift from her daughter. From there, she briefly studied with Arthur B. Carles and in the atelier of Fernand Léger, but was largely self-taught and her work has landed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Influenced by modernist painting and inspired by everyday life, Drew-Bear's imaginative cityscapes, fairy-tale scenes, and abstractions exude joy, honesty, and whimsy. The first scholarly catalog to consider Drew-Bear's contribution to the artistic legacy of Philadelphia will accompany the exhibition. Special events include a free open house and family program, a gallery talk, and lectures on self-taught and female artists. The retrospective is on view through July 13 at 9201 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill.
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia performs an "All Mozart" concert, Sunday, March 23, 2:30pm and Monday, March 24, 7:30pm. Featuring Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner (pictured) and noted conductor Matthias Bamert, former music director of the London Mozart Players and the Malaysian Symphony Orchestra. The program includes three celebrated works including the famous Symphony No. 40 in G minor and Flute Concerto No. 2 in D minor, in the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, Broad Street, Philadelphia. A Q&A session follows the Sunday matinee performance.
Philly native Christine Havrilla brings her rock, blues and country sound and her new band Gypsy Fuzz to World Café Live at the Queen, upstairs, Friday, March 28, 8pm, 500 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE.
With the Kids
The educational theater company Project Arts partners with the Rotunda for "Avenue Q School Edition," with performances March 21-30. "Avenue Q," co-created by Robert Lopez (who just won the Oscar for "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen), is a musical comedy about a recent college graduate who moves into a New York apartment on Avenue Q to find out that it is not your "ordinary" neighborhood. This edited adaptation maintains the intention and integrity of the original show, while incorporating age-appropriate issues in the lives of teenagers. Including local Philadelphia teens who have been taught improvisation, choreography, and vocal skills, accompanied by a live band at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
[UPDATE: The venue has changed] The popular touring theater company, Pushcart Players, celebrates the 350th anniversary of the Garden State with “Celebrating New Jersey,” a folk musical written by Ruth Fost. The free performance relates more than three centuries of history from the arrival of the first settlers to the American Revolution, to the many “firsts” like the steam locomotive and copper mine to Thomas Edison’s work and much more. Directed by Paul Whelihan and performed by Phebe Taylor and Harry Patrick Christian as part of New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival, Saturday, March 22, 2:30pm at the Surflight Theatre, at 201 Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ, and on Wednesday, March 26, 3:30pm at Horizon Center, 1680 Nixon Drive, Moorestown, NJ.
The American Swedish Historical Museum asks "Do You Know Pippi Longstocking?" with a new exhibit that celebrates the famed children's book character. Explore life-sized tableaus of Ingrid Vang Nyman's depictions of Pippi's world, go inside Pippi's home and cook in her kitchen. Opening Sunday, March 23 with Waffle Day, 11am-2pm, in honor of Annunciation Day, offering Swedish waffles served with whipped cream and strawberry jam. Then, a family program from 2pm-4pm with Pippi crafts, activities, story time and more, 1900 Pattison Avenue, South Philadelphia.
The Five Minute Follies Variety Extravaganza, a family friendly vintage variety show tribute to the Golden Age of TV, features singers, dancers, musicians, magicians, jugglers, comics, clowns and other acts. This month's show on Sunday, March 23, 3pm offers blues harp player James Day, Combs Family Magic, sketch comedian Sara Prendergast, singer Sarah Braverman, tap dancer Alexis Musani, and pop culture comic Craig Liggeons, produced and emceed by Michael Broussard, Adrienne Theatre Playground, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.
Storybook Musical Theatre presents the second show of its season, "Adventures in Toyland." The new musical about a little boy who overcomes his fears by taking a trip around the world with his toys is onstage March 26 through April 6 at the Klein JCC Theater, Jamison Road, Northeast Philadelphia.
Marissa Nicosia contributed reporting to this week's guide
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