"A Beautiful Find," Disco Descending, Straight Up Vampire and The Hoppers Hit the Road.
"Look, Dad, there's another one of the filthy bastards!" roared my 6-year-old daughter Tracey Trotsky Spinoza Jones while gesticulating obscenely at a male bohemian studying sheets of densely scrawled foolscap pulled from a Center City trash can. We'd been spotting these suspiciously well-dressed bin-rummagers for weeks. Tracey speculated they might be lost dimensional travelers desperately trying to get home to an alternative magical garbage-universe "like in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere." I thought it more likely we were witnessing the emergence of a new authenticity-fixated urban tribe of rubbish junkies--the dipsters. Turns out we were both wrong. The detritus-diving miscreants we witnessed were super cool Philly artists--former and current Man Man members, for instance--seeking material for what looks likely to be a truly trouser-burstingly exciting exhibition of "found" art at the James Oliver Gallery. Among the crap these geniuses have reclaimed and recontextualized for your chin-stroking viewing pleasure are mummified rats and mouse bones picked out of an owl pellet. Mmm! There will be so much grooviness packed into this stupendously sophisto-chic artist-attended opening reception that the universe might well prolapse under the strain, ending all life as we know it. But what a way to go. (Steven Wells)
If you ever had any doubts that the '70s and disco were hell on earth, Karen Getz will lay them to rest. A follow-up to her 2006 Fringe hit Suburban Love Songs, Getz's Disco Descending follows a group of disco dancers as they enter hell Orpheus-style in a glittery attempt to resurrect their departed loved ones. A few unique production choices are going on here. Getz eschews all dialogue and uses improv actors instead of traditional dancers for her comic ballet because, in her mind, they perform more organically and connect better with the audience. Getz has gone on record to assure that the piece will be much more than a tragic story of loss and pain. She says, "There are moments at funerals, wakes and shivas where humor comes out of the sadness. And it's a great weapon against death! Plus, it's 1978--the clothing, the music, the lifestyle. It's teeming with comic possibilities." (St. John Barned-Smith)
There's always a message in the music. From John Lennon to Lauryn Hill, great artists embed truths about the world in their work. Take, for example, the lines from pop-tart/rumored trainwreck Paula Abdul: "He's a cold hearted snake/ Look into his eyes/ Oh-o he's been telling lies." Though it certainly sounds like the petty ponderings of a jilted ex, one could read into it (flashback: fishnet shirt!) signs of the world of the undead. Straight Up Vampire is a play that traces the history of vampires in Pennsylvania using Paula Abdul's occult lyrics. Performed by the part-puppet part-human performance troupe Jollyship the Whiz-Bang, this period piece set in 18th-century Philly wobbles with a cast of characters that include Paula Abdul Blackwood, a young and pure Quaker girl with a taste for pale (but hella sexy) bloodsuckers, and Benjamin Franklin reincarnated as a werewolf. Expect an appearance from Abdul's most memorable sidekick, MC Skat Kat, who battles Benjamin Franklin for power. (Jazmyn Odokemi Burton)
�Hop To IT The Hoppers Hit the Road
Through Sept. 7. Various dates and showtimes. The Adrienne. $15. 2030 Sansom St. 215.413.1318. www.livearts-fringe.org
When Benny and Martin Hopper sing, you'll wince. Then again, maybe you're into that kind of thing. The "brothers"--actually N Crowd members and Philly locals Brandon Libby and Mike Connor-- debut their homemade meta-improv-musical as part of the Fringe. Connor and Libby, acting as a pair of home-schooled singing, uh, stars from Glenside, Pa., deal in The Office- style humor in which the laughs sink in a quicksand of awkward. In their show, the brothers set out on a quest to reach the pinnacle of stardom: a gig in Ocean City after the death of Grandma, a beloved figure who saved them from a mom too busy snorting meth to slap the PB&Js together. A crazy, lazy-eyed women and a naked dude in a bathtub play deeply into the plot. The Hoppers website is running a couple of great videos you might want to check out in advance of the show: an ode to Philly beneath the Rocky statue, and an enlightening rap about diversity, complete with the preppiest, whitest, pastiest clothing you'll ever see. The 90-minute show features members from Philly's burgeoning improv scene, with support from the Rare Bird Show, Men About Town, Industrial Improv, Illegal Refill, ComedySportz and Delaware Theatresports. (S.J.B.S.)
Calendar: Aug. 26-Sept. 2