Calendar: Nov. 7-13

By PW Staff
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 6, 2012

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"Four Hot Men and an Old Lady"

Photo by Kylene Cleaver

Wed., Nov. 7

Philadelphia Improv Festival
Kicking off a month-long comedy extravaganza, the Philly Improv Festival returns for its eighth year, hosting five consecutive nights of shows featuring a mix of Philly’s best improvisational talents, as well as several out-of-town acts from some of the most distinguished comedy institutions in the country. Split between two shows, tonight’s lineup includes Philly Improv Theater house teams Hot Dish and Davenger, along with local indie troupes Rintersplit, Neilson and Beauty School Dropouts, a female trio from Toronto. You’ll also get to sit in on a hilariously awkward first date, compliments of local group Chaperone. Should you like what you see, you’ll have plenty of chances to see more of it. Headlining the festival on Saturday is Austin-based troupe Live Nude Improv, which incorporates a bit of bare flesh into its spur-of-the-moment storytelling. -Nicole Finkbiner

7:30pm and 9pm. Through Nov. 11. $10-$20. Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St. 267.441.4780. phlcomedy.com

Ms. Lauryn Hill + Nas
Is she just eccentric or way ahead of her time? Call Ms. Lauryn Hill both. As the rapper/singer/actress heads to Philadelphia—her first appearance since ripping the Parkway as the best surprise on the Roots’ “Welcome America” stage on Independence Day—it’s hard to predict just which one you’ll get. The multiple Grammy winner parlayed success with the Fugees into international superstardom, then disappeared to raise her six children. Since then, her career track and public appearances have been erratic, but, as proven by her July 4th set, the magic that made 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is still strong. As for Nasir Jones, the rap star was in fine form at his recent Philly show on the Heineken Red Star Access tour, running through throwbacks and new joints with equal verve. From youngest in charge to mature elder statesman, Nas continues to move into hip-hop history with Life Is Good, one of the standout releases in a standout career. Expect a rare live duet from this dynamic duo on their 1996 hit collab “If I Ruled The World.” -Tonya Pendleton

8:30pm. $59.50-63. With Jhene Aiko. Electric Factory,  421 N. Seventh St. 215.627.1332. electricfactory.info
 
Thurs., Nov. 8

First Person Arts Grand Slam
They’ve been training all year for it—practicing over campfires, recanting to their pets, waxing poetic in the shower—all for this, the Grand Slam Storytelling contest. Winners from each month’s First Person Art’s Story Slam will finally face off on stage, pitting their finest story against others for a chance to be crowned “The Best Storyteller in Philadelphia.” A special judges panel featuring Kathleen Volk-Miller of the Painted Bride Quarterly, co-owners of L’Etage Jim Caiola and David Salama and comedian, booker and all-around great guy Corey Cohen, will espouse Philadelphia’s finest tale-teller with the gift of eternal bragging rights. -Abigail Bruley

8-10pm. $20. Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St. 215.922.1695. firstpersonarts.org

Tame Impala

Hailing from Perth, Western Australia, the wonderfully named Tame Impala are a band on a mission, seemingly hell-bent on recreating a slice of the late ‘60s where speaker blowing, mind expanding, sun-kissed psyche-rock is the order of the day, and all is impossibly groovy with the world. Theirs is an internal universe where everything sounds better with a head full of hallucinogens, drums are looped and phased into infinity, and vast armies of guitars surge back and forth and sideways to agreeably disorientating effect. Of course, those of a more jaded disposition would be well within their rights to dismiss all of this tripped-out tomfoolery as little more than beautifully executed pastiche, but there’s so much raw, unbridled enthusiasm and saucer-eyed love contained within, that you’d be a cold hearted, utterly joyless cynic to remain immune to Tame Impala’s undeniable charms. -Neil Ferguson

8:30pm. $16-$18. With The Amazing. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. 215.232.2100. utphilly.com

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
No need to weed through a bunch of uninteresting trinkets in order to find a great piece of art at this craft show. The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show offers artwork from artists who have been hand-picked from more than 1,300 applicants. Each artist was chosen for producing crafts worthy of being deemed “museum quality.” The show will include artwork from a wide variety of genres, including ceramics, fiber, jewelry and mixed media. All pieces are available for purchase,  and you’ll also have the opportunity to meet the artists, many of whom have traveled across the globe to come and share their wares. Proceeds are used to purchase works of art for the permanent collections, support education programs and contribute to conservation and publication projects. -Lindsay Kenney

11am-9pm. $5-$20. Through Nov. 11.  Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch sts. pmacraftshow.org

Fri., Nov. 9

Chick Corea and Gary Burton
If he did nothing else, Chick Corea’s time playing with Miles Davis would forever cement his role in jazz history. In his two-year span as one of Davis’ pianists, Corea caught the jazz legend at one of his most important periods—the start of his “electric” years and the essential trilogy of In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew and A Tribute To Jack Johnson, mixing in rock soundscapes and funk rhythms to help form what became known as jazz-fusion. Having already used his Latin-based stylings to experiment with the avant-garde as a sideman and leader—including his excellent 1968 solo record Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, Corea spent the ‘70s continuing to journey into these new sounds with his crossover fusion group, Return To Forever. In 1972, he teamed up with vibraphonist Gary Burton for Crystal Silence, beginning decades of collaboration between the two. Their latest album is Hot House, featuring interpretations of songs by Dave Brubeck, Kurt Weill and the Beatles. For this special performance, the duo will also be joined by the Harlem String Quartet. -Bryan Bierman

8pm. $30-$65. Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St. 215.893.1999. kimmelcenter.org

Besotted: Wine and Words
Unplug your Nooks and Kindles, check your coats and wash your hands, because today you’ll be handling rare vintage books at the Rosenbach museum’s “Besotted: Wine and Words” tour. Curator Patrick Rodgers will use the books you’re holding as platforms highlighting the multiple roles wine has played throughout history. Manuscripts dating back to 1732 will be ripe for the plucking off the Rosenbach’s mahogany shelves. Wine-stained pages of a 19th-century American haggadah are uncorked and given room to breathe. This versatile beverage appears in Shakespeare’s Henry IV as Falstaff’s cup of sack; turns Keat’s mouth purple; makes him forget in Ode to a Nightingale; and doubles as both hero and villain in the scrapbook of satirist-turned-prohibitionist illustrator George Cruikshank. No wine is served, but you’ll walk away a literary sommelier. -Jessica Foley

3pm. $5 plus admission. Rosenbach Museum, 2008 Delancey Place. rosenbach.org

Robert Randolph and the Family Band

When the Orange, N.J.-born steel guitar virtuoso Robert Randolph brings his soul-stirred, swang/twang sound to the Keswick Theatre, he’ll prove that you can take boy out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the boy. At first blush, it seems odd: a northern brother playing that Grand Ole Opry-fied steel guitar, the kind of Dixie instrument you heard on Hee-Haw or on a NASCAR commercial. But if the banjo made the trip from Mother Africa to Appalachia, it should be no surprise to find a black man on the steel guitar. In Randolph’s case, his love affair with the instrument began when he played it as a teen in his church. Further inspired by the Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randolph transported the sonic citizenship of the instrument from below the Mason-Dixie Line to the north, where it speaks rock, soul, gospel, R&B and hip-hop with a syncopated southern accent. While amassing a number of genre-crossing, critically acclaimed CDs—including Colorblind, Unclassified and We Walk This Road—Randolph also enjoyed success opening for Eric Clapton and the Dave Matthews Band and as a sideman with Elton John, Ringo Starr and the jamband Soulive. When he and his Family Band do their thing, don’t be confused if the gig feels like a simultaneous juke joint and a Sunday morning church service. -Eugene Holley, Jr.

8pm. $29.50-$39.50. With Billy Cox Band of Gypsys Experience with Andy Aledort. Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. 215.572.7650. keswicktheatre.com

Sat., Nov. 10

Four Hot Men and An Old Lady
SHARP Dance Company will debut two nights of new material in Four Hot Men and an Old Lady.  While Diane Sharp-Nachsin, SHARP’s artistic director, is hardly old, the four men in question are definitely hot. Steven Vaughn (Parsons Dance Company); Charles Tyson (Underground Danceworks); Kevin Ferguson (Doug Elkins Dance Company); and Joe Cotler (Koresh Dance Company) have choreographed new works for this home season performance. Sharp-Nachsin will debut a piece called White Rabbit, which will be part of Aquarian Exposition: A Trip Back to the Original Woodstock in this spring’s Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. Eight dancers will bring these unique pieces to life at the beloved Painted Bride. This is a showcase that is not to be missed, if not for the dance, then definitely for the hot men. -Katelynn Hartman

8pm. $15-$25. Through Nov. 10. The Painted Bride Arts Center, 230 Vine St. 215.880.2306.
sharpdance.org

Shepard/Beckett
InVersion Theatre opens its sophomore season with a quadruple header consisting of two short plays each from Samuel Beckett and Sam Shepard. At first glance, it may seem like an odd pairing putting the works of the rebellious rock ‘n’ roll scribe Shepard alongside Beckett, the leading experimental dramatist of the 20th century. InVersion artistic director William Steinberger, however, sees a number of similarities in the plays of the two pioneering playwrights. “Despite writing in such different milieus, both writers more than know their way around a joke,” says Steinberger. Simply titled Shepard/Beckett, the evening of one-acts includes Shepard’s early plays Red Cross and Killers Head alongside Beckett’s Catastrophe and Footfalls. All four plays focus on characters trying to find some semblance of purpose in a bleak and often inexplicable world. Featuring a four-member ensemble playing multiple roles, the homegrown cast includes Will Thompson, Brian Ratcliffe, Lizzie Spellman and the excellent Hannah Gold. -J. Cooper Robb

8pm. $15. Through Nov. 18. Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5, 825 Walnut St. brownpapertickets.com/event/282140

Sun., Nov. 11

Ani DiFranco
Though no recreator, Ani Difranco is, clearly, well aware of the Guthrie-Seeger-Baez-Ochs tradition of politically engaged folk and blues that precedes her. And in fact, it was a duet with Bruce Cockburn, a rendition of Pete Seeger’s famous “Which Side Are You On?” at the folk legend’s 90th birthday party, that led to the centerpiece (and title) of DiFranco’s latest album. Her fiery, updated-to-the-minute version exoriates Reaganomics, predatory lenders and anti-feminists. “J” considers environmental catastrophe from a porch stoop with a view of the damage from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. All that said, though, the artist with the honeyed voice and stinging guitar is ultimately hopeful, positive and life-affirming. Her shows have the welcoming aura of revival meetings, with fans calling out favorite titles and asserting their love for the singer. Choosing sides? I’d stick with whatever one DiFranco’s on. -Jennifer Kelly

7:30pm. $25-$45. With Pearl and the Beard. Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. 215.572.7650. keswicktheatre.com

First Glance Film Festival
The Philly-born First Glance Film Festival, now in its 15th year, has grown exponentially since its inception in 1996. Then, it was held in the basement of a small Center City theater for 150 people. Now, it has two sister festivals in Hollywood and Vegas, a library of nationally-celebrated films and directors and accolades from every major film rag in the biz. Time magazine calls it “one of the festivals for the rest of us,” because despite its current mainstream popularity, it’s still one of the only major festivals that keeps bringing indie shorts and features to the people before they hit theaters. -A.B.

1:45pm and 7:45pm. $8-$12. Franklin Theater at The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St. 215.448.1200. firstglancefilms.com

The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee

Drexel University’s production of William Finn’s popular musical The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee is a likely candidate for the holiday season’s sleeper hit. Charming without being overly sentimental, Finn’s insightful and humorous score captures the determination and courage of the Spelling Bee’s awkward pre-pubescent competitors, and the outrageous behavior of the infantile adult judges who are forced to come to terms with the tragic realization that their best years are behind them. Director Bill Fennelly (who previously served as the resident director for the national tour of The Lion King) says the production benefits from having a relatively young cast. Whereas professional productions often cast adult actors in the show’s major roles, Fennelly feels that the Drexel cast’s youth is a big advantage both in terms of portraying the adolescent “spellers” and giving the production the sense of exuberance and optimism that Finn intends. -J.C.R.

2pm. $15. Mandell Theater, 33rd and Chestnut sts. 215.895.1275. drexel.edu/westphal

Mon., Nov. 12

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit
The Franklin Institute welcomes Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit to Philadelphia, marking the 100th anniversary of the White Star Line ship’s sinking. This exhibit takes visitors on an emotional and educational journey of what life was like aboard the RMS Titanic. With more than 300 artifacts and room recreations, the exhibits pulls on the emotional heart strings of all who pass through. To further add to the emotional force of the tragic event, visitors will be issued a boarding pass and find out the fate of their passenger at the end of the exhibit. -Jordyn Kline

Through April 7. $19.50- $29.50. Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St. 215.448.1200. fi.edu
 
Tues., Nov. 13

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