Calendar: March 28-April 3

By PW Staff
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 27, 2012

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Become the hair apparent at the Beard and Mustache Competition.

Wednesday, March 28

Cory Branan
Sadness and devastation are crucial elements in the singer-songwriter niche, so sometimes it’s a real joy to find someone picking up a guitar and exuding whimsy instead of misery. Cory Branan fills this role with ease. The quick-witted rascal was once a 20-year-old “wank guitarist” in thrash- and death-metal bands in Mississippi. Then, he became intrigued by punk rock, which somehow led him to become smitten with venerable troubadour John Prine and get back into his old flame of folk music. Ultimately, his weird trajectory was an excellent thing, as Branan’s songs about youthful roller rink romance, a foxy Memphis waitress who keeps throwing out hints, and his kinship with Muhammad Ali all make for fun and richly alluring tunes. Throughout the majority of his discography, Branan sounds like he’s wearing a smile, and if he’s able to transfer even half of his on-record charm to his show, he’ll probably put one on your face, too. -Reyan Ali

7pm. $16-$18. With Chuck Ragan, Dan Andriano + Tom Gabel. Trocadero, 1003 Arch St. thetroc.com

Doubt: A Parable
Walnut Street Theatre keeps  up its busy schedule with tonight’s opening of playwright John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. Set in a gritty neighborhood in Shanley’s native Boston (which is so vividly realized in the dialogue, it’s almost a character in the play), the story focuses on a Catholic parish priest (Jeffrey Coon in what may be the most challenging performance of his career) who is accused of having a sexual relationship with an African-American altar boy. The accuser is a strict and unrelenting nun named Sister Aloysius (played by the always wonderful Ellen Tobie). A rigid disciplinarian who prides herself on her moral certitude, the evidence against the priest is circumstantial but troubling. Aloysius is convinced of his guilt, but in the best productions of Doubt we’re not so sure. Savvy theater veteran John Peakes directs, making it a good bet that the Walnut’s production will allow the audience to render its own verdict regarding the priest’s guilt or innocence. -J. Cooper Robb

7:30pm. $30. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. walnutstreettheatre.org

Lawmagedden
The lawyers of Lawmagedden are overworked, overstressed and ready to complain about the legal profession. The local comedians/attorneys traveled to comedy clubs around the U.S. this year, performing for firms and Bar Associations. Tonight’s event will feature Philly-specific material; Expect discussions on cheese steaks, Philly politics, NYers pretending to be Philly sports fans and local strip clubs. -Brenda Hillegas

8pm. $20-$27. Helium, 2031 Sansom St. 215.496.9001. comediansatlaw.com

Secret Cinema Presents: Girl on the Run
Secret Cinema’s Jay Schwartz made his bones lugging movie projectors around this burg just to show kids some moving pictures. Twenty years on, he’s still in the show-biz racket. His latest angle is ensconcing this permanent floating cinema at the Trestle Inn, a high-class joint. This evening’s feature flick is a carny number. A typewriter jockey’s been fingered for a murder job, so he hightails it to the local carnival, a grift run by a mean-tempered midget. Under the big top, there’s a bunch of floozies with great gams who fleece the marks. Our boy even mixes it up in the ring and he ain’t got no glass chin. Most of the meat-puppets in this low-budget noir are unrecognizable, but squint your peepers real hard and you’ll spot a kid named McQueen in the background. He had moxie and eventually made it to the big time. While enjoying the entertainment, order a few shots of top-shelf whiskey and some pickled pigs feet, but keep your mitts off the dames who bring you your hash, or you’ll get escorted out by an ex-palooka. -Raymond Simon

8pm. $7. The Trestle Inn, 339 N. 11th St. 267.239.0290. thesecretcinema.com

Thursday, March 29

Rachel Yamagata
Rachael Yamagata spent the early ’00s as the music industry’s next big female hope, earning comparisons to Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey for her raw takes on romantic disappointment. Yamagata soured, though, on the groupthink and corporate infighting that shaped her first two albums, Happenstance and Elephants ... Sinking Teeth Into Heart, and, at 34, turned DIY. Recorded live in seven days at producer John Alagria’s beach house, her third album Chesapeake still turns a skeptical eye on relationships still showcases a bruised but self-reliant strength, but this time Yamagata is in charge. -Jennifer Kelly

8pm. $14-$16. With Madi Diaz. North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. 215.787.0488. northstarbar.com

Friday, March 30

Sleep With a Devil
Does a pillow fight with the roller derby girls sound like a dream come true? Well, come get cozy with the ladies of Penn Jersey Roller Derby, formerly known as the She Devils. The adjusted league name fits their co-ed format, which plays both flat and banked track game. Despite the changes, the ladies who make up the three female inter-league teams haven’t lost their appreciation for some devilish fun. The girls will go head-to-head in a pillow fight that’s sure to get heated. There’ll be a discounted cover fee and opportunities to win prizes for those who show up in pajamas. So slip into something a little more comfortable and make some memories that are sure to keep you up all night. -Ashley Kole

9pm. $5-$7. Sisters Nightclub, 1320 Chancellor St. 215.735.0735. sistersnightclub.com

Balaclavas
In the past few years, we’ve seen many bands mine the sounds of the ’80s; most of them not even old enough to remember it. Houston’s Balaclavas certainly cast their gaze in the rearview, but seem to draw more from the pulpier side of underground sound of the time—think more the gnarled Midwestern vibe of Big Black, Silver Abuse or Toothpaste than floppy hair-dos and hyper colors. Sneak listens to the bands’ upcoming Second Sight EP show the band going further into a delightfully inky murk they might not find their way out of. It might be a good idea to bring a flashlight and an extra heavy coat down to the Level Room when you check them out. It’s going to get awfully dark and cold in there. -Tony Rettman

9pm. $7. With Death Rattle, Laffing Life + Black Gum. Level Room, 2012 Market St.
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Head
The TV ads for the 1968 film Head were simply 30 seconds of a man’s head in close-up. Even if viewers had any idea what was being sold—the inevitable Monkees movie—it still would have tanked. Their show was dead; album sales were slowing. And though their movie—a proto-Monty Python flying circus of linked sketches, written in a pot haze with director Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson—was too edgy for their audience, no counterculture type would touch a Monkees film. Too bad, as Head (named so that the producers’ next movie—i.e., Easy Rider—could be advertised as “from the people who gave you Head”) unleashes the anger and rage roiling under the “Pre-Fab Beatles”’ controlled image, tweaking the show’s loopiness to muse bitterly on free will. Luckily, the loopiness remains; there exists no better memorial to Davy Jones than a scene where he chats with Frank Zappa and a talking cow. -Matt Prigge

11:30pm. $7. Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 W. Lancaster Ave. 610.527.9898. brynmawrfilm.org

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