Planet Fitness, 2350 Oregon Ave. 215.551.9000. planetfitness.com
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, mauckingbirdtheatreco.org
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. philadelphiatheatrecompany.org
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. bratproductions.org
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. interacttheatre.org
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.
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. dreamsofmybrother.com.
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. jeffersonsquarepark.org
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. curtis.edu.