Two full length Stage Fright shows now online

05/02/2011

Yesterday was the closing night of STAGE FRIGHT: AN IMPROVISED HOMAGE TO HITCHCOCK. For those of you who missed the run, or for anyone who might want to catch a little more, there are now two full shows available on Vimeo. Featured below are the shows from the last two Saturdays. A special thanks to KEVIN REGAN for filming.

Show from Saturday, April 23rd
Suggested Location: Library + Suggested Psychological Fear: Spiders

Show from Saturday, April 30th
Suggested Location: Blimp + Suggested Psychological Obsession: Counting

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Full casts of new house teams announced

04/08/2011

Yesterday we told you about Laura Abernethy being added to the King Friday roster. Well, WitOut has the details on the new PHIT house team casts as well…

Codename: BRANDYBUCK
Directed by Matt Holmes

Aaron Hertzog
Alex Gross
Dennis Trafny
Jen Curcio
Lizzie Spellman
Mark Leopold
Rob Cutler
Scott Sheppard
Tara Demmy

Codename: SHADOWFAX
Directed by Kristen Schier

AJ Ortiz
Billy Thompson
Brian Ratcliffe
Claire Halberstadt
Erin Pitts
Karen Coleman
Matt Akana
Nathan Edmondson
Scott Hinners

There you have it folks. A hundred plus hopefuls, and PHIT has two new and very dynamic teams. We’re all excited to see how they come out of the gate…


Stage Fright happy hour fundraiser tonight

03/24/2011

This evening from 5-7, join the cast of STAGE FRIGHT as they raise funds towards their improvised homage to Hitchcock.

The event will be hosted at Chris’ Jazz Cafe – bartender and Stage Fright cast member ROB CUTLER will be joined behind the bar by fellow castmate ALLI SOOWAL. They’ll be serving up delicious concoctions, including vertigo martinis!

There will be discounted advanced tickets available, and a raffle that includes all kinds of fun prizes. So come on out!

STAGE FRIGHT HAPPY HOUR FUNDRAISER
THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 5-7PM
CHRIS’ JAZZ CAFE, 1421 SANSOM ST


Comedy for the Weekend Warrior

05/21/2010

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

SUNDAY


Review: Local improviser unearths darker side in Gravedigger

05/19/2010

Last week I got a chance to catch Gravedigger: The Plays of Mark Borkowski at the Walking Fish Theatre. Now in its final week, the production features three one-acts penned by the award-winning playwright and Kenso native.

The first act was The Mutilation of St Barbara, featuring Kirsten Quinn and Billy Edwards as a couple in their apartment, arguing about art, arousal and how they’ve come to find themselves so far from where they started as a couple. Edwards plays his character a bit too heavy handedly, and unfortunately as such comes off a little over the top to allow the scene to resonate the way I was wanting. Quinn throws out some nice anger, although the level and depth on her face plays much more piercingly than her vocal performance, and as such she owns her character best when left to silently boil. Michelle Pauls harnesses the tension well with her direction of the players moods and movements, while playing very subtly with the levels of contrast in this darkly comedic scene about an even darker relationship. While the best moments were silent and Mutilation ended up being my least favorite of the three, it still served as a nice primer for the rest of the acts.

The second act, A Gravedigger’s Tale, features Rob Cutler as the titular character. As an improviser, I’m well versed in Cutler’s comedic side, and it was nice to see him unleash a grittier, more bleak character than I’m used to. You might not expect to sympathize with a character that is so clearly little more than a heroin-addicted sychopant (so much so that he doesn’t even get a name beyond that of his job), but Cutler manages to use the purely pathetic nature of the Gravedigger to his advantage. Throughout the scene he leverages the character’s meagerness to play the fool for laughs, but more endearingly, wins us with a quiet empathy he shows for a drugged-out whore (played decently by Karina Croskrey). Kenneth John McGregor kills as a rough-and-tumble street kingpin who has the Gravedigger under his thumb. McGregor manages to make us laugh while never doubting his seriousness… and his booming voice coupled with his towering stature command the pace of the scene, for which he does not falter. Edwards makes another appearance in this act as a mid-level low-life, and redeems well as the character to hate in a graveyard full of hateful people. Kudos to Stan Heleva for his brave use of A LOT of dirt in a very intimate space. While some patrons might object, the dust on my tongue made me feel less like I was sitting in a theater and more like I was watching from behind a tombstone.

Twilight’s Child finds us joining a grieving couple in a diner for the final act, where the pace is slowed considerably. We get to enjoy Pauls onstage this act, playing a lamenting mother, inches away from complete madness. Pauls draws us in from the start, as I could have sat there an hour, entranced and unnerved by her sitting in a catatonic state of loss and pity. We quietly watch as the father, played superbly by Dennis Smeltzer, tries with all his waning energy to pull his wife back from nothingness. Juggling grief, anger, public embarrassment and desperate hope for a love he no longer can see, Smeltzer nails what I so long for in theater – a transparency where Smeltzer the actor disappears and all I’m left with is the character. I would be quite startled to find a happy, appreciative actor after the curtain falls. Whatever he’s tapped into for this role, I hope each audience gets to see it throughout the run. McGregor returns as the diner’s  proprietor, with just enough wit staccatoed  in as to not pull us down with the couple. Twilight’s Child is an incredibly slow and exacting reveal, thanks I’m sure in no small part to having Borkowski at the helm. It’s nearly always fantastic when a playwright can direct their own work, and I could find no exception here. Finally, the last moments leave us with an act of desperation so absurd, so contrastingly ridiculous, it can’t help but lift our spirits as we walk out the door.

Although the hometown Kensington angle doesn’t quite resonate through the work as something that could only happen here… I’m sure glad this show happened in my neighborhood.

Be advised, this show contains strong language, nudity, sexual themes, violence, sexual violence and drug use.

GRAVEDIGGER: THE PLAYS OF MARK BORKOWSKI
THROUGH MAY 23RD
WALKING FISH THEATRE | 2509 FRANKFORD AVE
$18 GENERAL ADMISSION / $12 STUDENTS & SENIORS
TICKETS AND DETAILS AT walkingfishtheatre.com


Opening Tonight: Rogers and Hammerstein Are Dead

05/13/2010

Tonight marks the long-awaited opening night of Ladies & Gentlemen: Rogers & Hammerstein Are Dead, presented by the Philadelphia Joke Initiative.

Ladies & Gentlemen aims to create full-length completely improvised musicals, with each new run of shows paying homage to noted composers and songwriters of musical theatre. Future runs may well be inspired by the songs and lyrics of Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber or Gilbert & Sullivan.

First up however, are the darlings of the golden age, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein – known for such Broadway classics as Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King & I, Carousel and The Sound of Music.

Over the last few months, the cast (under the direction of Jason Stockdale) has been completely immersed in the world of the famed songwriting duo, studying everything from song structure to character archetypes to dance styles – making sure that what they belt out is not only on key, but also on point. Every night will be a different musical, yet the goal is to have each one ring true to the musical tropes that R&H became so famed for throughout the 40s and 50s.

Ladies & Gentlemen features: Kennedy Allen, Mark Bringhurst, Olivia Brubaker, Olwyn Conway, Rob Cutler, Apple Milkshake, Joe Sabatino, Kristen Schier, Kelly Vrooman & Alan Williams.

The show opens tonight (May 13th) with a grand reception, and continues through May 29th.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN: ROGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ARE DEAD
PRESENTED BY THE PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE
OPENS MAY 13 (w/ OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION)
THU-SAT @ 8PM, SUN @ 7PM –  THROUGH MAY 29TH
THE LATVIAN SOCIETY | 531 N 7TH ST | TICKETS: $12-$20


Tonight: Everything Must Go joins the N Crowd

03/20/2009

Joining the N Crowd tonight in their weekly show at the Actor’s Center will be Everything Must Go. EMG is a resident house team of the Philly Improv Theater, under the artistic direction of PHIT executive director Greg Maughan.

EVERYTHING MUST GO, FRONT: AJ HORAN & JEFFERSON HAYNES; REAR: ROB CUTLER, MEG FAVREAU & KATIE HORAHAN

EVERYTHING MUST GO... FRONT: AJ HORAN & JEFFERSON HAYNES; REAR: ROB CUTLER, MEG FAVREAU & KATIE HORAHAN; NP: NICK GILLETTE, SHANE JENKINS & BOB SWENSON

THE N CROWD W/ EVERYTHING MUST GO
FRIDAY, MARCH 20TH @ 8PM
THE ACTORS CENTER | 257 N THIRD ST
TICKETS – $10