Walnut’s “Souvenir, A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins”

On today’s podcast, I had the opportunity to chat with Jonas Cohen, who plays Cosmé McMoon, the new pianist whose challenge is to compliment and complete on Florence Foster Jenkins, an eccentric and wealthy socialite who believes plays host to the soul of an enchanting coloratura soprano, played by Rebecca Robbins. Jonas, is not new to this role, as we discuss. It becomes clear that the production is very much Cosmé’s journey as it is that of “Flo”, as he intimately calls her. We dig deep and give in so, sit back and enjoy. Stay Tuned!

Jonas Cohen and Rebecca Robbins. Photo by Mark Gavin

ABOUT SOUVENIR, A FANTASIA ON THE LIFE OF FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS

It’s time to believe again in the power of music! Souvenir is the true story of one of opera’s most unforgettable stars. Florence Foster Jenkins, an eccentric and wealthy socialite, believes she is an enchanting coloratura soprano and she wants to share her talent with the world. After teaming up with a new pianist, Cosmé McMoon, she begins to hold recitals at the Ritz Carlton, festooned in fabulous costumes. She becomes a sensation! Unfortunately, the truth is Mrs. Jenkins can’t sing. But, there’s more than one way to get to Carnegie Hall… Based on a true story, this tuneful comedy beguiles the hopeful artist that lives in us all.

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION:

http://walnutstreettheatre.org

 

Nomadically-Nominated “Exile’s” 2017-18 Season

Before the mind-bending madness of Fringe Arts, I sat down with Deb Block to talk about the nomadic Theatre Exile and their 2017-18 season. Now, with offices in the company of 1812 and 11th Hour, we ran down the lineup while celebrating the 3 Barrymore Award nominations received last season. Exile will also play host to one of four plays presented in the region by playwright, Michael Hollinger, whom we hope to get some time with before the season ends. Exile will present at the Latvian Society this season and it will be a wonder how they use this space after getting so comfortable at home in Studio X. Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideation by Aaron Loeb

Directed by Joe Canuso

Honorary Producers: June and Steve Wolfson

Associate Producers: Gayle and David Smith

Season Sponsors: Bruce and Giuliana Zallie and Zallie ShopRite Supermarkets

Philadelphia Premiere

October 12 – November 5

The Latvian Society (531 N. 7th Street)

Featuring D’Arcy Dersham, Alex Hughes, Allen Radway, Harry Watermeier, Bill Zielinshi

 

Ninety minutes from now, a group of stressed-out corporate consultants is slated to present their work on a mysterious project. It’s time to brainstorm within the morally ambiguous parameters they’ve been given so they can make it to their kids’ soccer games and continue their ill-advised affairs. But as they work, the question of what they aren’t being told looms ever larger, becoming harder to ignore. If something truly monstrous is going on, it wouldn’t be happening over Starbucks scones… would it? A ferocious and hilarious thriller.

Really by Jackie Sibbles Drury

Directed by Matt Pfeiffer

Season Sponsors: Bruce and Giuliana Zallie and Zallie ShopRite Supermarkets

Philadelphia Premiere

January 25 – February 18

The Latvian Society (531 N. 7th Street)

 

In the studio she once shared with Calvin, a photographer poses his mother for a portrait. Like many artists, she struggles to capture on film what she envisions in her mind. As the photo shoot progresses, the women grapple with their memories of the man who was once the center of their lives. In the age of selfies, Really examines the particular and diverse lenses through which we see ourselves, each other, and our place in the world.

Sing the Body Electric

BY MICHAEL HOLLINGER

World Premiere

Directed by Deborah Block

Season Sponsors: Bruce and Giuliana Zallie and Zallie ShopRite Supermarkets

April 19 – May 13

The Latvian Society (531 N. 7th Street)

Featuring: Kim Fairbanks & Tony Lawton

Jess is tanking in Physics, so her mom hires Lloyd to help her pass. But she’d rather study his son, the survivor of a lightning strike that killed his girlfriend a year ago, and tattooed his body with elegant scars. When Lloyd and Mom hit it off, these two broken families are bound ever closer, inexorably — with explosive results. An intricate, atmospheric tale of love, sex, and the unseen forces that draw us together and drive us apart.

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION:

http://theatreexile.org

 

 

Rebroadcast: Simpatico’s “HIR” with Eppchez!

On today’s podcast, I get to know Eppchez! A self-producing artist wearing many hats who is featured in the Simpatico Theatre Project production of “HIR” by Taylor Mac. Get ready, there is some swearing at times. We explore the origins of Alma’s Engine and the dysfunctional family dynamics of “HIR” as it views the nuclear family through a new lens. Stay Tuned!

ABOUT HIR

Somewhere in the tangles of the suburbs, Paige is designing a brave, new path for her children – Isaac, dishonorably discharged from active duty in the Middle East, and Max, caught in the throes of transitioning gender here at home. Freshly liberated by her abusive husband’s debilitating stroke, Paige is waging a cis-revolt in support of Max’s journey, and is now armed to dismantle the patriarchy! In this visceral and delightfully absurd kitchen-sink dark comedy, Taylor Mac explores the struggle to recognize change and the courage to face its messy repercussions.

EPPCHEZ! (MAX) – Newcomer to Philadelphia theatre. Worked with Pig Iron, The Mediums and others with a focus on devising new work. Studied Theatre and Writing at Wesleyan University. A playwright, choreographer, director, designer, puppeteer, songwriter and vocalist. Artistic Director-Conductor of Alma’s Engine, a process focused creative ministry and self-producing platform for realizing air work in music and theater. Album – Self-Realized-Nation; A Song Cycle of the Occupation (2013) original plays Junk Redemption (2012) and They Extract! (2014 & 2016). Bartam’s Garden – Train-ing: A Duet, a site-specific solo musical.

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION:

http://simpaticotheatre.org

Shed some light on HELLO BLACKOUT

In the middle of Fringe Arts, it can be a challenge to catch up to the many artists who are presenting work. But, that won’t stop us here. Today, I caught up with Whit MacLaughlin on the phone on his way to one of many destinations in his artistic hustle to chat about HELLO BLACKOUT. There is a lot of thought behind an NPL piece and Whit is the best to explain and express the motives of NPL work. So, take a listen to our interview with Whit MacLaughlin for New Paradise Laboratories production of HELLO BLACKOUT. Stay Tuned!

ABOUT HELLO BLACKOUT

HELLO BLACKOUT! is theatre with a philosophical brain and an unpredictable heart. It follows the eccentric Kissimmee family ⎯ triplets, their mother, and an enigmatic father ⎯ back to the beginning of time. Blackouts engulf the family as they slam into an inexplicable future, with grim and hilarious results.

A pageant for this contemporary American moment, NPL presents a world where everything is unprecedented, and the final outcome is anyone’s guess.

 

 

 

 

 

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION

Hello Blackout!

Who was Fred Hampton? Iron Age Theatre has the answer.

I spoke with Iron Age Theatre’s John Doyle last in 2012 on a sunny day on UPENN’s campus. It was Fringe and we talked about Fringe Wraiths, an online theatre experience using QR codes as a gateway.

5 years later, we return with “To My Unborn Child: A Love Letter From Fred Hampton”. Local artist, Richard Bradford wrote this piece and portrays the Black Panther and Founder of the Rainbow Coalition who lost his life at the age of 21. Upon hearing this story, the question, “How far have we come”, comes to mind. Have we made any progress? I knew I needed to talk about this piece and if you have not experienced it as of this podcast, I hope you are so inclined to get tickets, plural, because this experience is sure to be one you will want to talk about with your plus one. So, here’s our interview with John Doyle and Richard Bradford for Iron Age Theatre’s “To My Unborn Child: A Love Letter From Fred Hampton”. Stay Tuned!

Richard Bradford as Fred Hampton – Photo Credit: Josiah Blizzard

ABOUT TO MY UNBORN CHILD: A LOVE LETTER FROM FRED HAMPTON

Fred Hampton, Black Panther, Founder of the Rainbow Coalition and victim of police violence. Hampton was murdered at 21 in his home by Chicago police as he lay next to his pregnant lover. Iron Age Theatre freezes a moment in time so that Hampton can share his unique vision, his hope-filled dreams and his brilliant analysis of American issues of race, economic justice, and human dignity with his son. This play is part of the Iron Age Theatre Radical Thinkers stable of original works. Written by Iron Age Theatre core member, this world premiere will challenge and inspire.

 

 

 

 

 

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION:

To My Unborn Child: A Love Letter From Fred Hampton

Fishtown: A Hipster Noir

There are two camps to this obsession with technology. There are those who want to know as much as they can about the benefits and the bells and whistles that give technology the potential to better their lives and there are those who want to let the world know that they have access to the newest technology but, do not always have the time to understand what it all does, how it helps and what you sacrifice for that access. So, Tribe of Fools production of FISHTOWN explores that through a noir lens which, peaks all of my interests. I spoke with company member and director Peter Smith, who also designed the set about the multiple hats worn in this production. Described as Chinatown meets Black Mirror meets Roger Rabbit, we are in for a ride. So, strap in and listen to our interview with Peter Smith for Tribe of Fools production of FISHTOWN: A Hipster Noir. Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

A luddite private eye stumbles onto a virtual reality conspiracy when new app allows you to live out your wildest fantasies… at a cost. This neo-noir explores our addiction to technology, our loneliness in an over-connected world, and asks what constitutes reality. It’s Chinatown meets Black Mirror meets Roger Rabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION:

Fishtown – A Hipster Noir

 

Rebroadcast: WHITE – James Ijames

On today’s podcast, on a beautiful night in Old City, I caught up with James Ijames, whose star is shining so brightly right now with his latest production of WHITE, onstage at Theatre Horizon. We talk about the production’s journey and what motivates him to create the work he does. Stay Tuned.

ABOUT WHITE

Gus is an artist. He’s just not a famousartist. So when a major art museum puts out a call for “new perspectives,” Gus—a white man—decides to seize his opportunity. He hires a black actress to present his work as her own, but as the actress gets more deeply into her role, Gus’s scheme spirals out of his control. Award-winning Philadelphia playwright James Ijames challenges assumptions about race, gender, identity and art in this seriously funny new comedy.

FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION:

http://theatrehorizon.org