Better Than Best: People and Places

By PW Staff
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 16 | Posted Feb. 23, 2010

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Planet Fitness, 2350 Oregon Ave. 215.551.9000.

Best Gay Theater Company

It was a civic embarrassment that for years Philadelphia had no professional company that consistently produced excellent gay theater. All that changed with the arrival in 2008 of the Mauckingbird Theatre Company , which immediately established itself as Philadelphia’s best gay theater company with a spectacular re-imagining of The Misanthrope and the magnificently theatrical gay love story R&J . Founded by managing director Lindsay Mauck and the company’s artistic director Peter Reynolds, Mauckingbird presents theater with a gay perspective, often focusing on innovative adaptations of classic plays. Reynolds says his goal is to produce quality, gay-themed work that speaks to a wide audience. “On any given day, I could go to a play that presents an interesting story impacting a heterosexual figure or couple. I don’t have this same opportunity with a homosexual scenario. It’s important to me to tell the stories we tell at Mauckingbird.”

Mauckingbird Theatre Company,

Best Secret Theater Deals For Students

One of the great misconceptions about Philly theater is that you need a trust fund to afford the ticket prices. Truth be told, local theater can be a surprisingly good bargain, especially if you are a student. Although most companies offer student deals, few are as enticing as the discounts available at Philadelphia Theatre Company , where students can purchase a seat for $10. “One of the core values of our theatre company is to guarantee that anyone can see our plays,” says PTC’s managing director Diane Claussen. “Because we know ticket price is a significant barrier for students, we have created several inexpensive ticket options including a $10 student rush ticket and the 2010 Student Pass for only $99.” The Pass is an especially innovative offer. Unlike a one-show discount, the Pass permits the holder to attend every PTC show (excepting the rare sell-out) as often as they like. That’s a lot of terrific theater for $99.

Philadelphia Theatre Company, 480 S. Broad St., 215.985.0420.

Best Inexpensive Alternative Theater

In 1996 the city’s most affordable alternative theater company Brat Productions was officially born and during the last 14 years the company has stuck to their mission to present “surprising, incendiary” performance pieces that are accessible to all economic brackets. Initially led by the enterprising actor/performer/playwright Madi Distefano, Brat became known for its sassy, punk rock approach to theater with productions like A 24 Hour Bald Soprano , Eye-95 , the site-specific barroom drama Eden and the innovative webcast The Many Men of Martha Manning . Proving they haven’t slowed down a bit Brat mounted the terrifyingly original production Haunted Poe in the fall of 2009. “Keeping ticket prices low is important to Brat,” says the company’s producing artistic director Michael Alltop. “It’d be great to make more money, but there’s a certain reward in just being able to make adventurous theatre that can be shared with so many people.

Brat Productions, 56 S. Second St. 215.627.2577.

Best Power-to-the-People Theater Company

The often-provocative InterAct Theatre Company produces plays that both question political authority and challenge audiences to revaluate their most deeply held beliefs. Easily the city’s best political theater, InterAct doesn’t produce plays that automatically trumpet the liberal point of view. Instead their shows typically express multiple perspectives, even those that may be considered radical, unpopular, dangerous or even (gasp!) conservative. The company’s artistic director Seth Rozin says the goal each season is to present “a theatrically interesting and diverse set of plays that tell compelling human stories and that illuminate issues of contemporary relevance.” Local politics figured prominently in the company’s landmark production of local playwright Thom Gibbons’ 6221 , which focused on the events surrounding the tragic fire at the MOVE house, while national politics are debated this spring in the world premiere of When We Go Upon the Sea in which dramatist Lee Blessing imagines George W. Bush standing trial for international war crimes.

InterAct Theatre Company, 2030 Sansom St., 215.568.8079.

Best Local Fauxbama

Over the summer, local money-hungry car dealership king Gary Barbera ran a sale called the Obama Trade-O-Rama, which he publicized with commercials featuring an actor whose only resemblance to the President was his skin color and approximate weight. While we don’t necessarily disagree with the disdain of some local bloggers, including Philebrity’s Joey Sweeney, who called the ads “mutedly racist,” we do think it’s just too fucking weird to be offended by. So in this instance, we’re using the word “best” to mean “oddest.” But congratulations, Gary, you’ve finally made a memorable ad.

Best Place To View The Country's Wackiest Obama Art Exibit

George Jevremovic is doing big things in his warehouse/retail space off Route 1 and Wissahickon Avenue. His store (more a treasure trove) Material Culture stocks rows and rows of beautiful (and affordable) vintage/antique furnishings and textiles from across the globe. Recently he was bit by the Obama bug and wanted more than a Shepard Fairey print could offer. Recognizing the global interest in an underdog president with international roots, Jevremovic looked to West African artists for even newer interpretations of an American phenomenon. Now, sharing floor space with almirahs and ikats, are walls flanked with personal expressions of hope. Jevremovic explains, "Our idea was to locate, collect and exhibit a group of artworks created during and leading up to Barack Obama's first year in office, sensing that something so seismic, so public, and yet so personal for so many, would find fertile ground among African artists. We were not disappointed." You won't be either.

Material Culture, 4700 Wissahickon Ave. 215849.8030.

Least Creep-Show Park for Summer Sunbathing

Not all of us are so lucky as to live in a place with a balcony or a patio, (let alone a yard where we can tan the old fashioned way) and not all of us are into stripping down to a bikini in a Center City park. So what’s the average city-dweller looking to lay in the sun to do? The good news is we’ve scoped out a South Philly park that’s never crowded and has plenty of sunny spaces for spreading out your blanket. The bad news is, once we mention how non-creep-tastic Jefferson Square Park is (most of the time), we fear that this secret sunbathing spot will suddenly be overrun with dudes toting binoculars.

Jefferson Square Park, Fourth St. and Washington Ave.

Best Way to Hear Classical Music if You’re Broke

If you love going to listen to live classical music but can’t lay out for the Philadelphia Orchestra every weekend, check out Curtis , one of the best music schools in the country. Because Curtis has a heavy performance requirement for its 160 students, there are usually three or four student recitals per week throughout the school year that are free and open to the public. These ridiculously talented young adults are going to be playing in orchestras and chamber groups you’re going to have to pay to see in a year or two, so take advantage now. The student performances occur most Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights of the school year at 8 p.m.; you can check what’s being performed each week at the school’s website. One upcoming performance that’s a particularly good deal is the February 24 joint recital of two new-music chamber groups: student group Curtis 20/21 and Grammy-winning, all-around awesome veteran new-music sextet eighth blackbird.

Field Concert Hall, 1726 Locust St. 215.893.5261.

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Comments 1 - 16 of 16
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1. Felicia D'Ambrosio said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:27AM

“Wow, guys, thank you so much! I am floored by the kind words, and you have given me the greatest accolade my CV has ever seen! Thank you Thank you!”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 01:07PM

“About the "Best Place to Embrace Punch-Drunk Love" article. Do you have any idea how disrespectful that is? These people are there to get help with their lives and not live in the same insanity that they have been for years while using drugs. Really? Have you no respect for an orignization of men and women who are trying to better their lives? You do realize that because someone who thought about seeking help might not because you published this. They wanted to go to an ANONYMOUS program and now, after reading your article, they might not because such peopple as yourselves think that meetings are a great place to go and just hang out. They might have a fear of being seen and you've just put this place up as a place to gawk at people who are trying to change their lives as if they are a bunch of freaks. What the hell is wrong with you? Have your writers lost their moral compass completely? Are your editors sleeping at their desks, just letting stories like this go by? You're sick!”

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3. akh22241 said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 03:54PM

“YOU MAKE ME SICK! Why on earth would you think an NA meeting is a place to HANG OUT!!!!! Have you no respect. If your an addict who wrote this, I'm even more p*****!!!!! It's ANONYMOUS. Apparently you've been there and if you know anything about the program then you should also know it's a direct violation of our traditions which are in place to protect addicts who want to remain ANONYMOUS! Also you would think a paper would know what that word means. In NA "Our primary purpose to carry the message to addict who still suffers" not to be a cool place to hang out. "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need maintain personal anonimity at the level of press, radio and films" If addicts think that this is a place where people just go to hang out then our message is lost and recovery won't happen. THANKS TO YOU THIS "BEST PLACE TO EMBRACE DRUNK LOVE" IS IN DANGER OF LOSING THEIR MEETING PLACE AND WON'T BE THERE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT!!!”

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4. TomP said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 04:20PM

“I agree, Felicia rocks!”

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5. Katie Loeb said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:36AM

“Wow! Thank you! That may be the nicest thing anyone has ever written about me or what I do. We'd all like to believe we're making someone's life better every day when we head to work. Whether we're doctors, lawyers, bartenders or Indian Chiefs, it's lovely to get some respect for getting out of bed and showing up to do whatever it is that we do. Thanks for making me feel like someone cares that I did and understands what motivates me to do it. I'm humbled and thankful.”

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6. ANONYMOUS!!! said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 05:51AM

“Tonight I heard someone share about an NA meeting being promoted in a newspaper... I couldn't believe that could possibly be true, so I had to see it for myself. And here it is. How sick and twisted are you to publish something like this??? Narcotics Anonymous is a place where we go, as addicts, to SAVE OUR LIVES... it's a matter of life and death, not some sort of hip hang-out! I recently moved back to Philadelphia and someone had actually recommended this particular meeting to me a few weeks ago... but who would want to attend a meeting where we will feel like we are specimens to be gawked at, a trendy Philly attraction?? And I'm curious how this was even discovered anyway...if the writer of this is actually a member of NA, you need to take a good, hard look at why you feel it's ok for YOU to violate the traditions that bind us all together. I know most of us would like to keep our meetings open, but it seems like this might be a good time to make The Eleventh Hour a CLOSED one”

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7. ANONYMOUS!!! said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:15AM

“I like how this story was conveniently written by "PW Staff." You get to remain anonymous, so please respect a program whose very foundation IS anonymity. If this meeting turns into some sort of circus, with people stumbling from neighborhood bars into a place that is supposed to be a SAFE HAVEN for addicts, I fear that our primary purpose (to carry the message to the addict who still suffers) will become lost in the chaos. Earlier I said that I wouldn't want to be gawked at, but, when I think about it, I'm not going to let this deter me from checking out a meeting that was suggested to me. I hope no other people seeking recovery are deterred by this either. Anyone who is not, please respect our desire to remain anonymous by staying away.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 01:56PM

“Well, it sounds like the NA people should make their meeting a CLOSED meeting if they dont want "NON" addicted people coming to them.”

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9. Nick Devlin c/o Long in the Tooth said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 03:37PM

“Although it doesn't really bother me to be labeled "so punk," it is a pretty inaccurate statement about my shop and the stuff we tend to also carry. I can't help but wonder why you would not just continue to reap praise on the guy with the spectacular range of influence(Thin Lizzy! Ramones!) and wonderful bands he plays in that know one seems to care about. Instead you feel the need to talk shit on two other record stores in town( Melanie, you Stoner!!). You also use the word whack. That is terrible. Unfortunately all of this goes down in the same article where you recommend that a good hang out in philly on a friday night is at an n/a meeting at a christian thrift shop! Ridiculous people. Please do not come to my shop for the next flavor of the month hype record that comes out. Go to AKA and give them the money. I will continue to enjoy my usual clientele who also buy the above titles, but do not shit on all the other styles that are held within the store. Oi.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 08:40AM

“Kudos to the Penns Landing post office staff. I don't even live in that neighborhood anymore, but still go back for the friendly service and the reasonable hours.”

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11. chris m. said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 11:37AM

“As far as the 11th Hour Group:
Calm down people. No ones anonymity was broken. No one is going to want to hang out with us on a Friday night because they are bored. This isn't going to attract anyone, nor is it going to make anyone not come.
Where our meetings are held isn't difficult to find out, hence the Public Information subcom. One website, one phone call and you can find any meeting in the city. Its not a violation of Traditions. Traditions are for groups, not media. We weren't the ones promoting us. And "personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films"? Key word: personal.
Make it a closed meeting? What is this '82? Glad that everyone that has had their lives saved now wants to hoard it, keep a secret and not let anyone else in now that you have found a new way of life.
And everyone acts like suddenly the last thing we would want to do is to shake the Hollywood portrayal of a bunch of old white men drinking coffee and whining about our lives.
See you at the homegroup!”

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12. John Culhane said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:31PM

“Avril 50 isn't cozy, it's...well, read all about it on my blog (”

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13. Mike said... on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:46PM

“Who is starting the rumor that Penn Treaty Park is deserted and empty? Have you ever been there? I have lived 2 blocks from Penn Treaty Park for the past 30 years. It is often crowded and filled with families having picnics and BBQ's throughout the summer. Hipsters do not go there. I reckon the rumor of it being empty and under utilized is being started by hipsters because they want more hipsters to go there. And then you can all play dodgeball, kickball and 4 corners there. Also, Penn Treaty Park is not adjacent to Fishtown. It is in Fishtown. It is adjacent to Northern Liberties and Port Richmond.”

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14. Jim C. said... on Mar 6, 2010 at 06:17PM

“It is a distorted way to mention an NA meeting--as if it was some hip thing to do for a night, like it's a "show." Ya, it's an "Open" meeting but that's not meant to mean "open to gawkers."”


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